You know that feeling when you have a boatload of work to get done but because it feels so overwhelming you end up doing nothing? That's been the past few weeks for me.
But this last week, I got way more done. I finally overcame the inertia I was feeling.
I think inertia is a great way to describe that exact scenario I found myself in; after all, the mental weight of all your work looming around you acts like a boat anchor, preventing you from getting things done.
So what changed? Nothing, really. But I did go back to some basic, tried-and-true techniques for getting things done.
First: I wrote a bunch of stuff down that I needed to get done.
The list wasn't complete. It wasn't necessarily the most important things either. They were just tasks I wanted to get done in the next week or so that I could remember.
By taking a half hour to write down as many tasks I could think of, I took that burden off of my already-overwhelmed brain, letting it focus on the one thing I really needed it to do: the tasks themselves.
After that half hour, I easily had 50 things written down; some were reminders to reach out to someone, where others were designing a big feature for my side project.
Second: I found the smallest, easiest item on that list, and I did it.
I took less than a minute to pick one out. It may not have been the smallest, but it was close to it (it was cleaning the bathroom mirror). Once I did one, I came back and picked out one more.
And I did it.
In another half hour, I was completed five other items. They weren't big, and they certainly weren't the most important tasks I had, but that wasn't the goal.
The goal was to get moving. To overcome inertia. To get that dopamine hit when you cross an item off your To Do list.
And that's all it took. I sat down after that, broke down and prioritized the remaining items in Todoist, and continued working through it as I had time.
Nothing here is groundbreaking. I'm not going to win any awards for regurgitating the wisdom of productivity gurus. But the process of starting with the smallest unit and progressing from that is one that gets me out of ruts on a regular basis no matter what my goal is.
And sometimes that's all it takes is one small win.