Bite-sized pieces

I make really intense, big to-do lists for myself most weekends – especially the weekends where I know I’ll be spending most of the time at home by myself. Generally speaking, I truly want to accomplish most of the stuff on the list.  The way that I find the least overwhelming, the least upsetting is to chunk up the projects into bite-sized pieces and tackle them that way.

I also find that I tackle them better if I mix up the order of work and reward, of creative stuff and mundane stuff. Of hard-core editing and goofing off.  Yes, I goof off, but only if it’s on my list.

This is a picture of last weekend’s list. It had the blog posts, the housekeeping, important things like showering.

to dos

I want to draw your attention to the yellow post it on the bottom of the shot. It takes the bigger to-dos listed above and chunks them up into little bites. Usually, those bites takes 30-45 minutes each.  I’ve talked about this approach on Twitter before, but I’ve never really illustrated it.  There’s an order to them, a method to the madness.

  • Blog post or freewrite for 30 minutes – this is always bite one. First, because they loosen up the writing muscles and get things moving, but they aren’t stressful or hard. Just saying to the brain “Okay, I’m here. Let’s do this thing”.
  • Then I work on that project that really feels like “work” – you know the one? The idea is because we’re loose and feeling all in-gear and accomplished from the previous bite, that it will springboard that energy into the slogging work of whatever’s work. Salvaged is done, but I’ve been editing things, and I have to make sure that the continuity flows…. just one more time.
  • The next is usually to stop and do something totally mundane and different. Swap the laundry in the washer and dryer, fold clothes, wash a sink of soapy dishes. If anything in the first two bites was stuck, this helps unstick them. Sometimes, I *gasp* stray from the list, and go back and fix that part.  As long as it’s forward motion, that’s okay.
  • Finally, I do something that’s creative but not writing. This is usually a making something crafty with my hands. Sometimes, if it’s been a particularly bad week, this bullet consists of doing a belly-flop onto the bed and reading for an hour or so.

Then, I repeat the process. Get back to the page, loosen up, finish the next blog post. Edit the next chapter, do the next chore around the house. Eventually, the blog posts are done. And I have to free write, or work on a fun project that’s just been begging to be played with.  Eventually the household chores are done and I have to go take a walk. Eventually, the crafts are all crafted out, and I have to read.

Most weekends I don’t have the luxury of having no other commitments. This is how I approach lazy PJ-pants weekends. Nibbling away at the hard stuff and playing around with the fun stuff.


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