Recently, a friend of mine and I were talking. She was feeling incredibly overwhelmed with her busy life. Although this is a common feeling, it’s a horrible place to be mentally.
When we let ourselves get so overwhelmed with life, we tend to decide to just shut down or we quit trying. Great ideas get left behind because we just can’t seem to find the time, and projects only get partially completed.
This is particularly dangerous when your “project” is something like self-care or improving your relationships with your loved ones. To help sort through all the mess, I told her to just imagine that her life is a jigsaw puzzle and take life piece by piece.
Take Life Piece by Piece
Imagine that every single thing you do is a puzzle piece. Do one small thing at a time. The small things will start to look like something large. When this happens, you’ll feel some accomplishment, like you’re moving in the right direction to complete something important.
As you encourage yourself to keep taking action, you’ll find that more and more things start getting done or closer to done. It feels almost like you’re connecting whole chunks of your puzzle together. Then, finally one day, your puzzle will be complete.
Honestly, I have no idea what that feels like; I’m still working on my puzzle. But I’ll let you know when I get there.
Why Focus on Small Tasks?
I love this idea of focusing on small tasks. When I do this, it’s more likely that I’ll finish my goal and feel good about that accomplishment. Sometimes, though, if I give myself too large of a goal, it can’t get completed when I want or like I want. This really disappoints me, and I can feel very down on myself for a while.
So, by focusing on small tasks, you’re more likely to get them completed and feel the benefits of accomplishment. The little gold stars that you accumulate through the day actually give you energy and determination to accomplish more small tasks and accumulate more gold stars.
How Do I Do This?
So now that you’ve decided that you want to try this piece by piece approach to life, let’s talk about how to do it. It all begins with a list. Your list can be mental or on your phone or a piece of paper; it doesn’t really matter.
For some people it is more beneficial to be able to look at something at the end of the day and see tons of check marks. However, there are other people that don’t need to literally see check marks because they know all of the things that they’ve done. Just decide which way is best for you.
If check marks on lists are the best reward for you, you’ll need to write lists. However, if you don’t need to see those check marks, you can keep a mental list or maybe use your phone for help.
Make the mother of all to-do lists. Instead of having large items on the list like clean the house, be specific about everything that needs to be done. Vacuum the living room. Clean out old clothes in my closet. Mop the bathroom floor.
By being very specific about what needs to be done, you don’t have to have hours available to accomplish one thing on your to-do list. Now, you just need a few minutes. This way, when you have a handful of minutes here and there, you can pick something really easy to do from your list.
At the end of the day, our perception about how much or how little we feel like we’ve done can decide whether we feel like we’ve had a good or bad day. In order to feel the happiest about your day, be prepared with a list of little things that you can do.
Take one piece at a time. Enjoy yourself as you accomplish each task. Feel how great it feels to remove that item from the list and give yourself a gold star. Then, over time, feel how the pieces of your puzzle start to slide together and reveal the bigger picture.
What’s your trick for making large challenges more manageable? Let us know in the comments below.
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