What to do when you don't know where to start
“I have so much to do, I just don’t know where to start!”
It’s common to feel that way when you’re drowning under the weight of your to-do list.
And when looking at your list makes your brain hurt because everything is important and needed to happen yesterday, it’s easy to slide into analysis paralysis. If you’re anything like I used to be, the longer you sit there trying to decide where to start, the more muddled and overwhelmed you become!
From there, it could go a few different ways.
Maybe your focus turns to the things that are shouting the loudest, just to get them out of the way. That might feel productive, but if we only ever focus on what’s urgent, when do we deal with what’s most important?
Or perhaps, exasperated, you decide that as you can’t do it all you may as well do nothing, and retreat to the safety of the sofa and Netflix. That might ease the overwhelm in the moment, but it’s not going to help you get stuff done!
Both these responses to analysis paralysis are common, but they’re not very helpful in the long-term!
Not only are we prevented from getting our amazing work out into the world, we can also end up feeling like a failure. Our lack of progress leads to frustration and anxiety, and our self-esteem takes a knock as we question our abilities and wonder if there’s something wrong with us.
But I’d like to let you into a little secret.
If you can relate to any of this, there is nothing wrong with you and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!
You see, high achieving, intelligent folk like us are more susceptible to analysis paralysis as we are brilliant at concocting an impressive range of best and worst-case scenarios around what might happen if we choose this thing over that thing. Our creative, problem-solving, clever brains are desperate to find the perfect solution. Only often there isn’t one, and that’s where we come unstuck!
So not knowing where to start, feeling stuck and overwhelmed have nothing to do with your abilities or your worth, and everything to do with finding strategies and tools to help you move forward.
As with so many things in life, taking a moment to find some clarity can make all the difference. You can’t see the best way out of the maze when you’re in it; you need to climb a tree and get a bird’s eye view.
So, the next time looking at your to-do list sends you into a tailspin, stop for breath. Give yourself permission to take a break. Go for a walk or sit quietly with a cuppa. Allow your brain some space. It’s impossible to untangle a knot if you’re holding on too tightly, right? Loosen your grip and cut yourself some slack.
Once you’ve taken a step back, let go of the need to find the perfect solution. When you don’t know where to start, fixating on the ‘right’ thing to focus on is counterproductive if it stops you from doing anything at all. Just pick something and start. You’ll feel much better for it, the momentum will build and before you know it you’ll be flying!
Is not knowing where to start something you struggle with? If so, take heart! You are clearly a very creative, intelligent human to be able to get yourself into such a pickle!
But if you want that to be a thing of the past, my online course, Productivity Made Simple, is for you. In just four weeks you’ll learn how to figure out what’s most important so you can start your days feeling calm and in control, with clarity about what to do first. And then, if you DO decide to hit the sofa and Netflix at the end of the day, you can do so feeling great about what you’ve achieved!
Find out more about Productivity Made Simple and grab your place here. Doors close at 8pm on Friday 14th September.