I have long lamented the overwhelm I feel when it comes to getting big jobs done. Whether it’s weeding, cleaning my house, managing the mountain of mail or emails – it doesn’t take much for a little bit to become a huge undertaking. Add a couple of kids (no matter how old they are) and well, you get the picture. I used to swirl and fret about the fact that I can’t get it all done in the limited time available to me. So I did the avoidance game and felt worse about it. Part of that is my bent for procrastination, part of it was lack of energy to tackle the whole job.
So, I’ve been adjusting my approach these days and I feel sooooo much better. I’ve taken to 2 different methods, depending on the day, my mood, or the time available.
1) 10 minute sweep – When I have a wee bit of time I use this method. I might set a timer or just do a watch check. I give myself 10 minutes of intense organization or cleaning. I always start with the biggest impact items to maximize the effect. And for 10 minutes I do all that I can. A sense of urgency and speed enhance the process but I try not to sacrifice efficiency. When it’s over it’s always amazing to me what a difference a short sweep of 10 minutes can make. It’s not done. It’s not perfect. But it’s usually presentable.
2) Graze as You Go Method – This is my “don’t sweat about it” approach when I have no time to tackle a specific task. Basically I just make sure wherever I go I’m not going empty-handed. So if there are shoes on the floor I grab and go. If there are glasses sitting in the bedroom or living room I grab as I go by on the way to the kitchen to leave. When I walk the dog I grab a handful of weeds. It’s only one or two items at a time. But I’ve learned, there’s a million back and forth trips we take in our homes. Whether it’s to pre-heat the oven, grab a drink, go to the bathroom, get dressed, etc. You know how it is – we go back and forth with a singular purpose and I’ve just added a second purpose to a path I’m already taking.
Neither of these approaches are going to get the job done when it comes to completion but it helps me to make an impact or maintain and improve without taking the time to do a big job. Since I’ve started doing these things I find a couple of things have happened. First, I get momentary satisfaction that things are improving. Whether it’s noticeable in the grand scheme (10 minute sweep), or just a satisfaction that I’m taking the million bites out of the elephant (graze as you go), either way I feel better about the overwhelm. Second, it helps me manage the chaos in a way that doesn’t let it deteriorate further. Last, by the end of the week or the end of the month I usually find that some major, overwhelming jobs are either done or can be finished in my next 10 minute sweep.
I’ve taken to appreciating these small enlightened improvements in my journey as micro methods for me to manage stress and live a happier life.
What little changes have you made that help you make progress or decrease stress?