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On Getting Started (...or On Not Doing it All)

I obsess over productivity systems. And organizational routines. And processes. And printables, labels and pretty office supplies. I mean, what's the point of having an overwhelming to-do list if I can't waste even more time organizing it and making it look pretty.

I've tried GTD (David Allen's Getting Things Done), ZTD (Leo Babauta's Zen to Done), 7 Highly Effective Habits (Stephen Covey), a million different apps and several extensive folder systems. I'm currently working a model that is a lot more streamlined: focusing on a clean list of things to do (without a lot of fuss) a la Mark Forster, zoning in on my Big Rocks and Most Important Things, setting up a Weekly Compass when I have time, and a plan old paper planner to help me keep both work and home straight.

All of these systems aside, however, the real problem isn't solved by how I set up the list. Or tag it. Or color it with pretty highlighters (although that really helps solve some problems!). My problem is always getting started. The "doing" of the list.

We're getting ourselves organized to move out of the city at home. At work, we're adding lots of new projects and adding lots of new people to my team. Little Bear is a very active 10 month old who is adorable and desperate for attention (and my husband has a ridiculously long workday).There is A LOT going on in my life.

Typically, when I am faced with all of the to-dos that come along with this craziness, I organize/sort/filter and then shut down and hide away for awhile before any kind of doing gets done. I struggle with feeling like I should do it all. Like if I just tried a little bit harder, I might be the one that could do it all.

And so as I strip away the systems and focus on the doing, I'm realizing that there are only two important steps:

  1. What can I do right now? 
  2. Do it.
I had an epiphany as I wiped down our bathtub earlier (like many city dwellers, our oversize tub was more often storage than spa, but you must hide that dirty little secret in an open house): the worst possible thing that could happen when starting a project that seems overwhelming is that it can be just as bad as I expected. Even if it becomes worse, I'm one step towards finishing the project, which is SO MUCH BETTER than not having started at all. 
So, as I simplify and focus this month, I'm going to keep asking myself about what I can get started. Not How Can I Do it All...but How Can I Get Started? And then I'll do it. 

On Autumn...