All too often I manage to overwhelm myself with projects. Concepts for new and interesting work roll constantly through my mind. I add more and more items to my To-Do list, crowding out the voice of inspiration for my current work, until I just want to lay everything down and walk away for a while.
This year I’ve already backed myself into that corner. There’s always something new to learn, something exciting to explore . . . and I do so love to learn something new every day. Today’s marketing models mean the mail I receive promotes new opportunities that will only be available “until midnight Sunday,” implying that it’s now or never. Knowing I’m inspired by the subject matter, or feel it will add to my knowledge base, I decide to add one more thing to my list of Current Projects. And then one more. And another. Until I’m buried beneath an avalanche of training MP3s, PDF files, books, courses, and teleseminars. To the point I can’t enjoy completing any of them.
Even worse, the constant need to keep up with all these projects exhausts me before I even begin my own creative work. And that’s what I hate about the state I find myself in today.
I’m tired; I don’t feel inspired to create. I want to rest.
Each time I place myself in this situation (yes, I do this over and over again) I promise it will be the last. No more signing up for courses I don’t have time to finish right now. No more adding to the thousands of megabytes of training stored in files on my computer. No more!
Then I receive another offer that piques my interest, read another review of a book that ignites my curiosity, accept another long-term project from someone who “just knows” I am the person who can guide it to completion.
It’s time to send myself a message:
Stop, Suzanne! Don’t press “Add to Cart.” Don’t say “Of course I’ll help.”
Just stop. And breathe. And allow the space in life necessary for your own creative work to grow and mature.
There’s no mental or emotional space in which to be creative when all you experience is overwhelm.
There are a few projects I must complete this year, in order to receive certifications, or before the mentor opportunities expire. Those will go to the top of my list.
One family project has been on the backburner for eight years. Started but never completed, it’s been nagging at me for entirely too long. I’m going to finish that book so I can say, “Halleluiah! Done!”
I’m making an inventory of all the other courses I’ve purchased and downloaded for “later,” all the teleseminars I’ve saved for “one day,” and the books I bought that never made it to the top of my TBR pile. And I’m prioritizing them by asking myself these questions.
1. Must I complete/listen to this course/project/teleseminar? Must I read this book?
3. What will I gain if I do?
4. What will I lose if I don’t?
I expect I’ll find myself with hundreds of megabytes of free space on my computer, fewer “shoulds” shouting in my head, and more peace and space in which to work on the projects I love.
It may only be baby steps right now, but I’m moving out of the state of Overwhelm, starting now.
Do you experience overwhelm on a regular basis? How does that affect your creativity? Your energy to write? What one thing can you do today to eliminate something from your to-do list? And how will that make you feel?