keeping up with personal projects when you feel overwhelmed

November 4, 2014

keeping up with personal projects

Life has been busy lately! Between all the sicknesses in our household, a spirited toddler, more patients at work, and an overbooked schedule, I haven’t had much time for myself. That’s okay; it’s the season of life I’m in and I know it will come and go.

You probably know by now that I am a very goal-driven and aspirational person. I always have personal projects that I’m working on, both big and small, and even more that I’m dreaming up.

I actually become even more inspired when I am busy with other things. When I’m active physically my mind is active as well. Lately I have so many ideas and dreams and hobbies that it can be easy for me to get overwhelmed with them and lose focus. When I find myself mindlessly playing games on my phone instead of making any progress toward my goals, I know something needs to change.

Here’s what I do:

1. Write everything down.

I’m a huge fan of the Getting Things Done method. I use the Things app to capture any task or idea, placing them in the Inbox. That way I can stop using mental space to hold onto them. Then when I have some time, I can go back and categorize the tasks or create new projects out of them. I do that in the app, or using Evernote if it’s something larger.

2. Figure out what needs attention NOW.

I’m talking about personal projects here. It’s always a given to me that I put my faith, my family, my job, and the household first (that includes housework and meals). Sometimes there isn’t time for anything else, but usually I’ll have small pockets of time here and there even during a busy season. So I like to have a plan for what I want to focus on.

For me, right now, there are three ongoing activities that I want to keep up with: my training runs, blogging, and reading. Probably in that order. The runs are important because I feel better when I exercise and I don’t want to die when running the half marathon in January. Blogging is a constant creative outlet (good for my soul) and a community. Reading is just something I love, and I’m part of two book clubs that I want to keep up with.

Once I figure out that those are the most important things for the moment, I make a plan. Ideally I’d love to run 4 times per week, but my goal is 3 (two short runs on weekdays and a long run on the weekend). On an especially busy week I could make do with 2 (a short and a long). I tell myself that during any downtime I can work on the blog or I can read. It’s okay if my posts aren’t amazing or if I only read a few pages a day. I’m still making progress, and I’m not wasting time.

3. Prioritize the larger projects.

Then there are the larger projects, dreams, and goals. These are what can really trip me up because I want to do all of them right now. But when I gave myself permission to delay working on some of them, a weight was lifted. I decided to focus on one thing at a time for now, and this is what it’s looking like:

>Holiday prep (including purchasing gifts, my annual holiday minibook, and possibly completing the advent calendar)
>Liam’s birthday (planning his party and any memory-keeping to go along with it)
>A quilt for Meredith
>Blog development
>A possible creative business idea

So that’s what’s working for me during this busy season! Now it’s your turn to share your tips. How do you keep up with your personal projects?

Posted in: personal, goals, personal, tips


Comments on keeping up with personal projects when you feel overwhelmed

  1. 1
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    From Nora:

    I make lists, lists of my lists and even more lists. I have them all over the place: at work, on post-its, at home. It helps me to stay on point and know what I have to do. The next endeavor I am tackling: making a house cleaning calendar. We splurged on a cleaning company for a while but decided that money is better used elsewhere so it’s back to me (and Knight) to clean the house. I figure if I have a weekly schedule of what needs to be cleaned and when, it will be much easier for us to fit it in and get it done.

    Creatively: I hope it busts wide open soon. I’m going to be picking up all of my mom’s crafty things from my parents’ house soon. Maybe that will finally inspire me. I hope.

  2. 2
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    From Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout:

    When I’m really overwhelmed, I make a list of everything I feel like I have to do, and try to figure out what I can take off of it, then talk to my husband and see how we can divide and conquer. I also love making a list of chores on the whiteboard on our fridge, and crossing them off as I go.

  3. 3
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    From Holly:

    Like you, I write everything down! I have a notebook full of creative projects I want to tackle, another with ideas for my blog, and I keep daily to-dos in my regular day planner. I try to schedule at least one evening/week for myself – whether it’s for journalling, Project Life, crafting, reading, whatever. I don’t necessarily prioritize – I just do whichever “creative outlet” I feel like doing that particular day :) Which is probably why I’m always a month behind on Project Life ….

  4. 4
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    From Traci:

    The only way I survive is priorities! So, number two of your list. Eep!

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