It seems I never have enough time in the day to do everything. Things start to pile up and as my energy gets lower, I feel really unmotivated to do anything that is not critical. I can keep going for a while, but eventually I reach my tipping point. Essentially I find myself unable to move forward without doing the dreaded things, but yet I can’t make myself do it. Or I’m so exhausted that I only have energy for the essentials. Yet, I’m expending energy thinking about, and avoiding, all the other things piling up. groan.
One strategy I developed is to approach the dreaded tasks in short bursts of focused energy, the “sprint”. I use this method to get through tough work assignments, a lingering to-do list, processing a crowded email inbox, cleaning a dirty kitchen, and getting rid of clutter. Typically my sprints are from 5 to 20 minutes. When I’ve completed my designated amount of time, I call it quits and congratulate myself for having accomplished this small feat. I feel it’s important to be “finished” and sometimes I define that with a time limit. For example, “clean the kitchen for 10 minutes”. It likely won’t be fully cleaned after 10 minutes, but I consider it finished for the day.
Usually at the end of the day, when I’m super tired, I like to do a 5-minute clean up challenge for one area of my home. Dirty dishes are always high on this list. Or I spend 5 minutes prepping something for the next day (e.g. pick out clothes, pack my bag, get my lunch ready, etc.).
Growing up, I had a best friend who made a point of tidying up for 5 minutes a day. It wasn’t ever enough to clean up everything, but it was just enough to keep the clutter from reaching her tipping point.
I have also benefitted from the “practicing sprint” with my bassoon. I’m slowly reaching 10,000 hours in 10-minute increments. I’ve been practicing in 10-minute sprints for about 20 years. Ten minutes has always been an achievable amount of time to fit into a busy schedule. It’s amazing how much one can accomplish with 10-minutes of focused energy.
Whether I’m working on something long term, or just trying to get through the day, I’ve found the sprints to be a good way to get through those dreaded tasks.