How many projects do you have open? Ever begin a new one while there was still sooo much left to do on the others? Because you had to, right? If you’re anything like me, you have multiple projects going at one time, most of them somewhere just below or above the halfway mark of getting done. They’re sitting there, lounging about in various stages of undress, thumbing their noses at you and beckoning the rest of the world to have a looksee at how disorganized you are….
…Or is that only me?
Misery loves company.
Projects are not the only things I collect. Apparently, I have a penchant for Internet Browser Tabs. They’re addicting. I mean, sure, I tell myself that I leave them open as a reminder. A 21st Century trail of breadcrumbs, leading me back to the land of unread articles and ignored interweb pals in desperate need of a witty reply. But, that’s just an excuse. I’m pretty sure I’m a Browser-Tab Hoarder.
Another thing I like to collect, this one falling more on the plus side of my Mordant Habits, is To-Do Lists. Short ones, long ones, day–week–month ones…I’ve got a bunch. Just recently I set myself up with yet another Master To-Do List. (Yes, there have been others.) I’m really proud of this one. It’s three columns wide—enough to fit my Tortuga Twins, Mordant World, and personal to-do stuffage. Then it breaks down into recurring tasks, weekly, and people I need to contact. I take something from each of the columns and put them down on an index card. Those items are the ones I’ll be working on for that specific day. It appears a little convoluted, but it’s not that complicated…not really. My brain seems to like it and I’m getting stuff done, (yes, this blog is on the list) and that’s what matters.
I could delve more into To-Do Theory, but that’s not what this blarticle is about.
(Please stop applauding.)
The reason I bring up such things as to-do lists & browser breadcrumbs is to share a bit of my own mental clutter and let you know I’m guilty of everything I’m chatting about here. That is why I’m sooo knowledgeable on this subject—firsthand experience. Mental clutter isn’t the topic either. Then, why have I “wasted” 383 words (as of last sentence) talking about it? Because those aspects of mental clutter are part of a long list of things that keep you from completing your work/finishing your projects/achieving your goals. They get in your way, delay and trip you up, preventing you from being able to…Cross the Finish Line. Btw, this is what this blarticle (blog-article—so, sue me) is about.
Busy is the new Lazy.
Often insidious, sometimes distractions & excuses come cleverly disguised as work. You heard me. I believe that one of the things we do to keep from Crossing the Finish Line is busy work…or, more specifically Busywork. You know, those day-to-day things we “have to” get done. It may be some other project or a task you’ve been putting off. It could even be something that, once you begin working on it, opens doors to various forms of distraction.
Social media anyone? No?
When was the last time you “just checked” your Facebook for a minute…
Holy crap, where’d that hour go?!
Don’t beat yourself up too much—my good intentions have led me down this self-same road. The problem with Busywork is its ninja-like ability to sneak in under your distraction-detecting radar, keeping you sooo busy that you don’t have time to do the really important things—for your family, your dreams/goals, even the J-O-B. Sinister & sneaky, Busywork is the Sith Lord of distractions. You’re spinning your wheels, exhausted from all the quality work-time you’ve spent managing various “necessary” tasks. Yet, at the end of the day, you’ve done nothing to further your goals, level up beyond your current circumstances, or enrich your quality of life. You’re stuck—finish line in sight, but lacking both the drive & energy to sprint those final meters and cross.
Crossing the Finish Line is something we all struggle with from time to time. You’ve done it; I’ve done it. The good thing about all of us being in the trenches together is we can share our experiences, both positive and negative, and the wisdom harvested from them. Below are four steps I use to help me get over the hurdles and across the finish line.
STEPS 2 HELP YOU CROSS THE FINISH LINE
MAKE A TO-DO LIST: No, I’m not kidding. This really works. Not only is this good for you & me, but it’s grand for other highly successful people.
“I have always lived my life by making lists: Lists of people to call, lists of ideas, lists of companies to set up, lists of people who can make things happen. Each day I work through these lists, and it is that sequence of calls that propels me forward.”
~Sir Richard Branson~
Jot down the “to-do” you want to work on for that day and number each task accordingly. Begin a task and finish it. Try not moving on until you’re done or have “hit a wall” (i.e., need someone else to “do their part” before you can take up the reins again). *Tip: Let’s not live or die by this order—if you’re on #3, but you’re moved to knock out #7 or can do it with alacrity, feel free to make that Quantum Leap.)
TURN OFF YOUR “DISTRACTIONS”: Facebook, television, video games…your phone—turn them all O-F-F! There’s nothing more hindering than being pulled out of your flow by a buddy with an oh-so important message for you or the *ping-ping-ping* siren call of new emails. Set aside your creative time for being creative. The world and its catastrophes will be there when you plug back into the Matrix an hour or three later. Meanwhile, your Real Life, the life you are meant to have if only you would do whatever it takes to make it your own, is waiting for you to crank up the power and go get it.
MAKE IT A GAME: The only person you’re really in competition with is yourself. Why not use this attitude to your advantage? Find a way to have fun with even the most mundane tasks. How? Try setting various deadlines and rewards for finishing early. (You have a week to complete your task. For every day before your deadline you finish, give yourself a little sumthin’-sumthin’.)
People like to be scared. That’s why rollercoasters and horror flicks do such a big business. Why not discover enjoyment in facing those things that challenge you? I was a touch fretful when going to invite singer/artist Afua Richardson to guest on The Other Side of LIVE! I’d never met her before and I wasn’t sure how she’d take this motivational blonde guy with the Tony Stark goatee. (*Spoiler Alert* — I can be shy sometimes.) I decided to walk my talk and Fail Forward. Though nervous, I sought her out and asked her to be on the show. She said “Yes,” and I even managed to vlog the moment. It was scary. It was outside my comfort zone. It was fun and I’m sooo glad I did it! As long as I kept it a game, I was able to play through all my doubts and negative self-chatter. In the end, I both lined up a guest for TOSOL and deposited some serious cred into my self-esteem account. You can, too! Just make it a game and remember…
“Have fun dammit!” ~Cindy Lu~
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE: Don’t forget your Why! Instead of looking at all the crap you have to go through to get to where you’re going, stay focused on the accomplishment and its benefit. While working as a painter’s apprentice, I had to walk a narrow ledge to get from one painting site to another. I was fine as long as I kept my eyes on where I was going, my destination, my goal…not on my feet and where I was walking. Relaying this story to writer/aerialist Allison Williams, she told me that this was true for aerial performers of all varieties—especially the tightrope walkers.
Your Why (your reason for doing those crazy-wonderful things you do) is what keeps you going when all about you is chaos. When the doubts creep in and you’re not sure you’ve made the right choice in pursuing your dream, your Why will keep you Crossing the Finish Line when others are quitting the race before they’ve even worked up a sweat. Your Why is the “reason for the season,” folks. It is, literally, why you began running your race in the first place.
Keep your eye on the prize, trusting your feet to land where they’re supposed to land, and you, my friends, will Cross the Finish Line, accomplishing every fantastic thing you set your mind to do.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
~W. Clement Stone~
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