I once decided I was going to get really serious about all the home improvement projects I wanted to tackle. I had a few in mind and as I looked around the room, a few more popped into my head. I grabbed a piece of paper and walked through my house, room by room, writing down every project I could imagine, no matter what the size, scope or budget requirement.
When I finished I sat down at the kitchen table and looked over my list. There were more than 100 items written down. I promptly became completely overwhelmed at the work I had to do, left the table and spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch eating popcorn and watching bad Sunday afternoon television. I didn’t accomplish a single thing on that list.
We all get overwhelmed in our lives. For most of us, the shear number of things we must get done in a single day takes up so much of our time we can’t even consider the things we want to get done. And that’s on a optimal day. Add a bad night of sleep, a cranky boss, or an unexpected deadline and quite frankly, your day is screwed from the start.
If you’re anything like me, and I assume you are, you just know there is a perfect task to start on right now and if you just think about all these things long and hard enough, you’ll figure it out. The problem is, all that time spent trying to figure out the perfect way to get started eats up all the getting started time.
Let’s look at a hypothetical short list of to-do items:
1. Organize photos
2. Pick colors for painting the bedroom
3. Plan and order seeds for next spring’s garden
4. Go through kid’s art projects and choose the ones to save.
5. Update my contacts in my address book.
So looking these over, none of them stand out as being terribly important do they? Yet it’s this exact reason we often can’t make decisions. When things are urgent or important the answer becomes much clearer: “Hmm, should I rearrange my books by author or should I put out the grease fire on the stove?” As important as it might be to make sure David Sedaris is shelved right in front of Shel Silverstein, I think we’d all reach for the baking soda first.
The bottom line is this- it doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do start. Pick the address book because it’s mindless or pick the seeds because it’s the most fun or pick the artwork because you can do it with the kids around. It doesn’t really matter. You’ll get it all done eventually. Just start.
Now for the challenge: Think about learning guitar, taking pottery classes, learning to bake, or whatever else it is that you’re putting off waiting for it to be the perfect time to start. There is a perfect moment for whatever it is you’re thinking about. That moment is now.