We all have those days where our to do list is miles long and our brains just can’t seem to focus. We’re a bundle of buzzing energy, skipping from one project to the next, never really starting anything and certainly never actually finishing anything.
In those moments, I remind myself of my best and favorite time management tip.
Do one thing.
That’s it. It seems impossibly simple, but it’s deceptively powerful.
Writers are used to tapping into a creative and energetic side of their brain. Literally anything will give me an idea. I am writing this while staying with friends during a work trip, and watching their three cats play together gave me an idea for a children’s book. I am not a children’s book writer, nor do I want to be, but my brain just put ideas together and there you go.
Moms are used to doing eight hundred things at once. We’re cooking dinner, wiping runny noses, breaking up fights, and paying bills online. And that was just between 6:05 and 6:08pm. There is no space or time in our lives for focusing on only one thing.
Writer moms get these two wonderful worlds mashed together and it often feels like my head is barely above water. As an indie author, there will always be something else to do. Another promo to book, another newsletter to send out, a chapter to edit, a cover to buy. And while there are great resources out there for organizing all the different tasks, starting one thing always means not doing something else that feels just as urgent and essential.
One place I don’t feel this way is at my non-writing job. When overwhelm starts to hit me there, I have a manager who I can go to with my to do list and she decides what my priorities are, based on larger organizational goals. While it’s super fun to not have a boss as an indie author, there are times I wish I could go to someone who could decide my priorities for me.
One day not too long ago, I realized I do have someone. Not a boss, but a community. When a friend reached out to me, completely overwhelmed with all the tasks she had to do that week, I told her to pick one. I even gave her a suggestion. I picked an easy one, since she seemed to be at her absolute mental limit. Send an email, I think it was. So for that day, the only thing she “had” to do for her indie author business, was send this one email. That’s it. If she could do that, the day would be a success.
Woosh! The feeling of relief was palpable. Letting go of everything else on that list and focusing on a single task shifted the entire mood for the day.
Is this the only thing she did that day? Of course not. She also made dinner, and wiped runny noses, and paid bills online. But she knew she’d done at least one thing to keep her business on track. It’s not the seven hundred things she wanted to do. But sometimes one can be more powerful than seven hundred, if it makes you feel just as accomplished.
So pick one thing to do today, from start to finish, even if it takes all day because of interruptions. And you’ll start to feel the kind of control and power that is impossible to get with a miles long to do list. You can’t do everything. Let go of that.
But you can do one thing.
Need a community to help you with prioritizing? Come join us over in the Writer Mom Life Facebook Group and find your people!