“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
Right now, it has never been more important to move slowly and deliberately.One Step at a time.
We know that stress and anxiety short-circuit decision making so rushing into something when you’re feeling desperate is not a strategy for success.
And of course, when everything around you is uncertain, you’re going to want to get some relief … and fast.
But just think back … have you tried to simplify your work or your life only to find yourself either back where you started or possibly even worse off than before?
With just a desire for efficiency but no plan, that’s not surprising.
Often people charge off with a big idea but no plan and then, when they fail, blame either the technology or themselves and then stop.
It’s not the big idea’s fault.
It’s not even your fault if what you’re blaming is your ability to stick with something.
We don’t know if that’s really your problem.
What we do know is that without a plan or a system, there’s nothing to hold onto.
So it is your fault for not planning better.
Fortunately, that is easily fixed.
A MARATHON IS A SERIES OF STRIDES, NOT A SINGLE EVENT
It’s not easy running a marathon—if it were, we’d all be doing it.
Well, maybe not today since it’s also hard to stay 6 feet away from all the other runners.
And you don’t run a marathon the first day you start running.
Most importantly, you don’t run a marathon as if it were a single event.
You actually run about 33,000 strides to cover 26.2 miles.
So using a marathon as a metaphor for increasing productivity, you’re not going to suddenly become super efficient overnight if you’ve never previously paid attention to how you’re spending your time.
You would be much more successful, and the process would be easier AND more comfortable, if you shift your mindset from running a marathon to simply tying your laces and taking a few strides.
First things first.
What’s the plan for running 26.2 miles? Leave the house and don’t stop until you get there?
How often has that gotten you where you wanted to go?
And even if you did eventually arrive where you wanted to go, was it really the most efficient and direct route there?
FIRST, CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Along with adjusting your mindset, you’ll also want to look at any expectations you may have.
You might not even be conscious of them.
You could be so deep inside your feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated, or disappointed that you don’t realize that part of your stress may be caused by these unspoken or unconscious expectations.
You may have a fantasy of what productivity looks like and feels like without any roadmap or plan to get there.
You may be so overwhelmed that all you can imagine is everything off your calendar and no commitments, as if that is the only way to get some relief.
Well, productivity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that’s actually a good thing.
Because if you could just magically make every task disappear, you’d have no system in place to keep the overwhelm from happening again.
What I can promise you is that if you are diligent and deliberate, you can get and stay organized for good.
Yes, even you.
But if you’re thinking you’re going to do this overnight, you’re mistaken.
We’re surrounded by aphorisms that tell us:
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
“Take it one day at a time.”
“Little things make big things happen.”
“The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
So, there’s collective wisdom in taking action, even if it’s small action.
And instead of expecting perfect adoption and instant transformation, let’s make today as perfect as it can be and not beat ourselves up over what we didn’t do yesterday, or worry ourselves sick over what might or might not happen tomorrow.
Living in the now is the only bit of magic you need.
THEN, CHECK YOUR DIRECTION
How do you want to live?
That’s not rhetorical and a vague answer will not serve you.
Regardless of how much you like stuff, is there anything you like more?
What do you want to spend your time doing?
Again, not rhetorical.
Are you still working AND working from home?
If you’re stuck at home you’re smack dab in the middle of everything you’ve accumulated over your lifetime.
So it’s hard to escape your historic choices.
Answering this question about HOW you want to live and WHAT you want to focus on—accurately, simply and directly—will give you the information and direction you need to start your process.
For me, I like nice things that work well—things that do whatever job I need them to do quickly and efficiently.
I don’t want to waste time making something do something it wasn’t meant to do – like painting the house with a toaster.
So I choose the objects that I bring into my life based on their aesthetics and their functionality.
From my computer to my phone to my sofa.
That lets me get on with the activities that matter more to me.
And this isn’t about me, anyway.
So don’t waste your time judging MY choices—turn that laser-sharp eye back on yourself.
THEN, TAKE SOME ACTION
They say, “faith without works is dead.”
So even after you right-size your expectations, you still have to do something.
You’re not going to pray or meditate or wish yourself into better organization or time management.
And if you’re anxious and stressed out, you’ve got to quiet your mind down enough to figure out WHAT action to take.
And then, you’ve got to move a muscle—several muscles in fact.
The good news is as long as you’re moving in the right direction, baby steps are still steps.
BACK TO EXPECTATIONS
With the right direction and some action, you will definitely make progress.
But if you find yourself creating new expectations and demanding 100% consistency from yourself, remember Bonus #1 in our Top 10 Tips for Resolutions: Expect to Backslide.
I know—January 1 seems a million miles away right now.
The point is, backsliding happens to everyone.
So keep your eye on the macro goal which is an organized, functional home that is the perfect springpad for all of the other activities and relationships you want to be engaged in…
And keep the focus on today which is where you have the most agency.
Every day, renew your commitment to change—just for today.
Confine any worrying or fretting about your goals to these 24 hours.
As one of my mentors, Mark LeBlanc, likes to say, “Everyone can take one more step.”Regardless of how you’re feeling, chances are you can do anything for one more day. Click To Tweet
“One day at a time” let’s you release the need to micromanage your progress and focus only on your actions.
The results are both none of your business and are sure to take care of themselves if you put in consistent effort.
Your worry does nothing to move you forward.
It’s ok to be nice to yourself while you’re building new behavior.
Beating up on yourself or too much rigidity will likely lead to failure.
Remember that failure breeds failure, and success breeds success.
Finally, most of us can recall the fable about the oak and the willow.
When the weather was fair, it seemed as if the oak was the stronger tree.
When the wind kicked up, it became clear that the willow, with its ability to bend, was really the stronger of the two.
Do you have a daily practice of meditation, quiet reflection or simply planning out the day before it begins?
Incorporate the renewal of your resolution/commitment into that daily routine.
Do you feel like you need some support in making the kinds of changes you’re striving for?
Then be sure to sign up for our FREE 5-Day De-Stress Your Mess Challenge.
Together as a community, we’re going to connect and dig into every flavor of clutter you have so you can get clear on what you need to do to get and stay organized for good.
And right now, if you are stuck at home, you have ZERO excuses and plenty of time.