Getting over My Obsession with 'The Perfect System'
Confession : I'm obsessed with getting things done. I have two child-free days each week (when both of them are at school) and on those days, I move at 100 mph trying to get through my to-do's. I love making lists (of all kinds), breaking down big jobs into bite size tasks and checking things off. As a result, I've become a bit addicted to all things goal related - blogs, books, podcasts, videos, PDF's, planners, worksheets, online classes - all of it. As long as the cost is reasonable, I've probably bought it / signed up for it / given my email address to receive it. I've done it over and over because I wanted to learn all I could in order to tweak and perfect my own goal setting methods.
Even after I thought I had a handle on my own goal setting process, I kept buying. Kept signing up. "What's one more? It's just $5." I thought, "So-and-so is using this planner. Maybe this is the one?" But it wasn't. I felt like a junkie and just wanted more. I eventually felt more overwhelmed than inspired.
So, while I thought about my favorite parts of all of this "stuff" I was consuming, I set some rules for myself to try to break the cycle :
1. Stop buying and take a break from reading and seeking out "better" goal setting methods. I actually sold all of the unused physical products that I had purchased and bought a simple Moleskine planner so I could break everything down by month. And when I stumble upon something interesting online, I just save it in my Pocket to read later. I think for me this urge to consume was a form of procrastination. One of my favorite things to read about is how other people work, but eventually it was just keeping me from doing my work. I was avoiding my own tasks by looking for new ways to approach them. Marie Forleo is one of my biggest sources of inspiration on the web and I love this post and video about finding balance between creating and consuming. Major lightbulb moment.
2. Sit down and just start planning. First, I made time to do a big brain dump. Personal projects, things to buy, craft projects, blog post ideas, household projects, wish lists, scrapbook layout ideas, errands to run, books to read, movies to watch - I put it all down on paper. I wrote a list of what is important to me (and what isn't) and made corresponding categories to put all of these projects and goals in. I decided what I can / should do now (meaning, this month), and what can wait until later. The projects were broken down into tasks and I put those tasks on my to-do list in the Wunderlist app. Nothing could be crossed off until it was done, or I deemed it unimportant and moved it out into the future. I review everything weekly and re-evaluate monthly. This step could probably be a post all its own.
3. Only compare to myself. It's so easy to fall into a trap of "How does she get so much done? Why can't I be that focused / make that much money / work that fast / blog every day / have time for this and that?" Instead of comparing myself to the single 20-something who can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, or the 40-something mom of older children that don't need constant supervision, I'm trying to only compare myself to me. Most days I have pretty realistic expectations of what I can get done - between taking care of and enjoying my family and home - so if I can make progress with my own goals within my circumstances, then I consider that a win.
I know there is no "perfect system" but I was literally giving myself too many options. Choosing a single, simple planner and limiting the time I spend reading about what works for other people is what is helping me take action to achieve my own goals right now.