As a highly detail-oriented person, I get easily overwhelmed by the many, many, ….many things I both need and want to do. I see all the parts all at once. And, I want to do it all Right. Now. This constant stream of details about all the things I do or want to do leads to anxiety, and, dare I say it, FOMO. I fear that all these things I want to learn or do or make, won’t happen. I won’t manage to accomplish them. There are too many details involved, and life is already full of details as it is. These goals feel too large, too daunting, and too time consuming when there is a normal family life with all its demands that needs to be lived. So these ideas and goals sit in my head like a buzzing cloud, giving me a nagging sense that I’m not doing something.
I decided I’d Had Enough. So, on a beautiful spring Saturday morning, I took a hike down to the closest coffee shop. First I hugged and said goodbye to the five-year-old (J), who is very particular about goodbyes. (Whenever someone leaves the house, J will stop whatever activity is going on to give hugs, say goodbye, and watch from the front door as they drive, bike, or walk away. It is a sweetness that I hope never ends.) So, I sat in the coffee shop with the hipsters, the soccer parents getting hot chocolate with their mud-splattered kids after practice, the couples on morning-coffee-less-pressure-first-dates, the informal business meetings, and the students making note cards at the bigger tables – and I plotted. I plotted because plotting sounds so much more intriguing than planning. I was determined I was going to find a way to do the necessary things of life and also all the things I just simply want to do.
I sat there with my latte and my notebook and I started making lists.
First – one big list of goal categories.
These are the overarching areas that contain all the details that overwhelm me. Some of my categories were: Etsy Store, Leadership, Art, Decluttering, Finances, and Marriage/Family/Home, among others.
Second – one page for each category listing out the details that need to be worked on.
For example, under “Marriage/Family/Home” I have things like: find soccer league, make weekly menu plans, paint blue wall, help 15-year-old get license, plan date night.
Third – a list of what I will get done this week.
In each of my major categories, I chose one or two things that I’d be sure to make progress on in the coming week and I wrote down exactly what that would be. Such as: read 1 basic article on investing, spend 1 hour decluttering books (Gah! So. Many. Books.), read chapter 7 of book for meeting on Tuesday, etc.
Fourth – a page for each day of the coming week.
Here I broke down my long list for the week onto each day of the coming week to make sure there was time for each and every goal – both the necessary ones (like laundry), and the ones I just want to make progress on (like the painting for my friend that has been taking me far too long to finish).
I had A Plot. I walked home with a feeling of purpose and accomplishment. I no longer felt a huge burden of so much undone. That encouraging and focusing email I wanted to compose to the team I lead at church? It was scheduled. The closet with all the crap in it that I can’t seem to find time to get to? Time was allotted to it. The Etsy Store I want to open but the details of doing it are too overwhelming so I never start? The first step was on the calendar.
Next came the real challenge: putting The Plot into action.
Tune in next time to hear Karen say, “But, I don’t feel like doing that now!”