It’s easy to feel like being busy automatically equates to accomplishment.
Sure, when you’re in a get things done frame of mind, juggling tasks is addictive as hell. But working at a breakneck pace isn’t usually sustainable. Before long, you’ll be stressed out and overstimulated, slowing your progress and bottlenecking your potential.
Heads up! This post is syndicated from my personal blog, Aspire to Wander. You can view the original here: On Productivity and Overwhelm: Kill Your Darlings, Darling
Cited often by writers in reference to the self-editing process, kill your darlings refers to the unapologetic slicing and dicing of one’s own work. It is immolation. It’s not meant to be self-destructive. Instead, this is meant to be cleansing and strengthening; sort of like clipping away at extraneous branches and leaves to preserve a bonsai’s structural integrity.
And sometimes, these tasks on your everyday list— this busywork— they become your darlings. Then you are trying to do so much, but you end up accomplishing much less than you expect.
TL;DR – You need to cut through the extra BS, and focus on what matters.
You need to break your big, hairy, audacious vision down into clear goals and attainable objectives.
Do you know how this gorgeous living wall began? One plant at a time. This beautiful work of botanical art is from the Summer 2019 exhibit at the NYBG: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx
Break it down
How do you eat an elephant, exactly? (or the world’s biggest radish for my non-meat eaters in the audience?)
One bite at a time.
Don’t think about what you need to do yet— just visualize that outcome.
Take a mental picture of yourself at the proverbial finish line. What does that look like? How does it feel?
- What thing can you do right now that’ll bring you closer to achieving your objective?
- What one thing can you do tomorrow that’ll get you even closer?
- How about next week?
- And the week after?
The point here is to keep yourself from getting swamped. Taking a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach to your task list might feel oh-so-slow-going at first. But progress doesn’t always happen quickly. By being disciplined about taking your time, you’ll be more easily able to identify the unnecessary so that you can cull those tasks right off your to-do list.
There’s so much you can accomplish in a day, but I recommend committing to a single action item. Some days, you’ll finish way more than one thing. Other days, you’ll be comfortable knowing that one thing is all you need to do. Progress will appear to go slowly at first but keep at it. The satisfaction you derive from checking the impactfulthings off your list will drive you forward.
The one question to ask yourself
Got your list of action items? Go through each task and ask yourself the following straightforward question; answer with a yes or no. “Maybe” is not an option.
Does this task solve a problem that currently stands between me and my goal?
If you answered with anything other than an undeniable yes, then you need to examine if it deserves a place on your list.
Lots of tasks look pretty on paper and can make you feel good, but if completing them doesn’t actually advance your quest, you should cut it.
Kill Your Darlings
So go ahead— and kill your darling to-do lists. Quit it with the vanity metrics and the quest for perfection (though that’s a topic for another day).
Cut out the unnecessary, shut down your urge to stuff your schedule, and purge that busywork, because these are just distractions (mind-tchotchkes as I like to call them) that weigh you down.
Blogtober 2019, Day 2
FYI! At some point in the distant past, I published a very darling version of this post to a now-defunct blog. You can see that super OG version via Wayback Machine here. I’ve revived and refreshed this post, especially for Blogtober. Thanks for reading! If you’re participating in Blogtober 2019 as well, drop your link below, or connect with me on Twitter.
Again, this post is syndicated from my personal blog, Aspire to Wander. Read the original here.
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