I’m one of those people that can end up feeling overwhelmed by a daunting task rather easily. While it’s true in many areas of my life, where this overwhelm most often expresses itself is in homemaking tasks, specifically cleaning and home organization.
When we were unpacking our boxes after moving into our new house, there were many times where I simply looked at the utter disaster of boxes around me and rather than feeling inspired to get everything unpacked, I wanted to curl up on the couch and do none of it. For whatever reason, this is how my mind works. Any sense of overwhelm automatically results in my wanting to shut down completely.
The other day I was finishing up the cleaning and organizing of my office, and my technique was to take everything that was still out and put it on my desk. The result was everything else looked great, but my desk was piled high with a bunch of random things that still needed a home. Cue the overwhelm! I found myself wondering how I was going to actually accomplish this task, but then I actually said outloud “Just do one item at a time. Just one!”
So that’s what I did. I grabbed the 3 essential oils bottles and put them in the essential oils drawer. I started a pile of papers to be recycled. My external hard drive went into my electronics bin and my random protein bars went downstairs. Little by little, piece by piece, one single item at a time, my desk got cleared off. Then it was done!
While I know I have been using this technique for a while now (just one dish at a time when emptying the dishwasher or just unpacking this one box first before worrying about the fact there are 18 more in this room, etc), the other day was when I truly took the time to think about what I was doing, how absurdly simple it was, and I realized that it could be applied to literally every single thing I want to do in this life.
As the saying goes “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
And that’s the truth. Once I realized that this “just start by putting one thing away” technique could be used for every single one of my goals, I felt my entire mindset shift. Can it really be used for any goal? I think so!
With a goal of hitting major subscriber milestones and making my blog and Youtube channel a business that generates a livable income, there are some big things that need to happen, however, the baby steps are what will make it happen:
- Just write for 25 minutes (literally what I’m doing right now)
- Just film the one video today
- You just need to spend an hour editing
- One Instagram post today
- Just respond to this one email
- Spend 10 minutes brainstorming some content ideas.
To-do lists are literally list breakdowns of your single items. Rather than looking at your list of 17 different tasks that need to get done today, just look at one and do it. Then, after you can cross off that one thing, do it again with another task, and then another.
This technique can even apply to your weight loss goals. It’s true! If you are one of those people that really struggle to do what needs to be done to achieve your health goals, break them down into almost ridiculous itty bitty, moment by moment tasks.
- Put on your gym clothes (don’t think about the workout yet, just put on the clothes)
- Drink a glass of water before your coffee
- Make a filling breakfast
- Okay, now I just have to make this one healthy decision at this moment: Candy bar or carrots and hummus as a snack??
- Just go to the gym. Get in the car and drive
- Oh, look! I’m at the gym! Might as well hop on an elliptical for a few minutes.
- Can I go 15 minutes more?? You bet I can.
It sounds absolutely ridiculous, doesn’t it? While it might feel silly to break your 100’s of food and health-related decisions down into the teeniest little tasks, that’s honestly how to get it done. That’s how to clean the desk; one little item at a time.
Like I said, while I’ve been using this concept in housekeeping to help me feel less overwhelmed for quite some time now, it wasn’t until just the other day that I realized the power of breaking things down into small little bits could apply to any goal. Weight loss, career, reading goals, new hobbies, getting out of debt…all of these things can be done one calorie, decision, page, and penny at a time. It’s that simple.
Now it’s your turn. What big goal or task is making you feel overwhelmed? Now think about how you can break that thing down into the tiniest of tasks, and then pick one…just one, to do right now.
and just like that, you made progress!