How do you eat an elephant?

22 November 2017

Anxiety is not good for you. Joy is.
My last published blog post was four months ago, another ten drafts have been sitting in my computer for years. I really couldn't find time to do it. It's hard to articulate to people who don't live with me how busy I am. My calendar is full and I'm constantly hustling. I have a full time job, participate in an NGO and work on some side projects as well. There are so many times I feel nauseous and think I couldn't take it anymore.

I tried many methods to manage my time and productivity, e.g. Pomodoro timer, different productivity planners suggested by different websites, bullet journal, Evernote etc. Currently the method I am using is an integration of Google Calendar and bullet journal. They have been extremely helpful to me.

But you know what, tools are secondary. Mindset is primary.

When you are occupied by tasks and deadlines, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious. And those are the traps. These feelings suck away most of your energy and make you feel restless. Instead of focusing on the solution, you experience shortness of breath, headache and impatience. Have you experienced this before? When a deadline is drawing closer, you find it difficult to sit still, you pace around the room, you play with your fingers, instead of working on the task itself.

In times of challenges and stress, it is even more important to stay focused and relaxed, and focus on the task, not the emotions. Recently I witnessed a leader having a nearly breakdown moment because of a tight deadline. Trapped in the emotional whirlwind, she pulled everyone with her in the storm of anxiety and restlessness. And the result was not great. If she would just take a step back, break tasks into smaller ones, focus on the single task at hand and don't let emotions distract her, the outcome would have been so much better.

This is a quote that is now constantly playing in my head.
The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Personally a big part of my anxiety and feeling overwhelmed by deadlines is because I am a VIP - Very Impatient Person. I always want to get things done in the shortest time possible and ask for perfection. This is utterly impossible and I am only making my own life difficult. Being anxious and worried will not help the situation at all, and it will not miraculously make you more time to solve anything. So, one bite at one time. You will eventually finish the beast.
Beautiful illustration by Melissa Washburn
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. One step at one time.

I'm inspired by Seth Godin who has been writing daily and sharing his work publicly in the past decade. I resonate with this paragraph in this post so much:
If you know you have to write something every single day, even a paragraph, you will improve your writing. If you're concerned with quality, of course, then not writing is not a problem, because zero is perfect and without defects. Shipping nothing is safe.
And this applies to every single task. This applies to every single craft and mastery in this world too. Start small. Move inch by inch.

-- Eve x

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