Daily Archives: January 12, 2020

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Help yourself stay on task one step at a time.

January 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as ,
blurred January calendar in background, blog headline in teal and white Help Yourself Stay on Task One Step At A Time by Denise M. Colby

Do you ever find yourself having a difficult time staying on task? Do you get overwhelmed by all the to-do’s on your list? Do you ever second guess the processes you use or even the planner you use?

You are not alone!

I struggle with all of these. But I’ve found that in amongst the chaos, I seem to be making progress (see last month’s post – Reflecting on your Accomplishments), and I hope to provide encouragement and inspiration to help you keep working toward your goals and dreams for 2020.

January, every year, is a reset month.

Start over with new goals. Pick a new word. Word harder. Or differently. Or more. Or less. I love getting a chance to open a new calendar and a new planner and start over. But sometimes I wonder if the planner I’ve chosen is the one I should be using. Anyone else do that? 

I never realized I was such a commitmentphobe with planners until recently. See, I tended to second guess my choices every time I saw a new one or someone else using a different one (I had done this with writing processes too). I’ve had to have a major talk with myself. And accept the fact that there are TOO MANY choices out there and no one can use all of them. I have to just pick one and then dive in and use it.

It’s using it that makes the difference.

I also see a big theme in planners for setting routines. Track this. Track that. Be consistent. Blah, blah, blah. Yes, I agree. They are important. They help immensely. They are what help us accomplish all we want to accomplish. And for the most part, I’m all for them. I do like routines, but I hate the confines of them too.

See, sometimes I struggle with the little person inside of me that screams “i don’t wanna!”

I am a dependable worker. I meet deadlines, stay committed to tasks, and follow through. But I have a little rebellious streak in me that gets frustrated with following specific formulas. I tend to want to create my own. Do it my way. Then I end up frustrated with the results. And not just with planners. I find I do this with my writing habits too. 

Why do I do this? And what can I do to change that?

First, I realize that some of this is that I’m human. Some of it is my own version of saving funds (don’t want to waste money on something I’m not sure I will use), as well as wanting the perfect set-up, the perfect amount of time to work on it, and the perfect way of using it throughout the year.

But as I’m writing this, I realize we only know what we know at the time we are taking action. And as our knowledge grows, our needs change or how we do things will change. We need to be adaptable. Waiting for the perfect moment is the opposite.

As I grow in wisdom over the years (aka age), I find I don’t care about everything being perfect as I once did, I want to accomplish much in my lifetime, and I want to be purposeful in what I do (purposeful was my word in 2019 and it was a great word). I’m tired of waiting.

Now, I try to just jump in where I am and work with what I got. Progress is progress. I can always change things later. In some ways, this is a process. It’s the one I’m currently using. I won’t be married to the process for fifty years or maybe I still will, all that matters is right now. It’s a very freeing thought. One I am constantly still trying to adapt to.

So, if you are struggling with staying on task, routine, and/or schedule, here are some suggestions to help you get over that hurdle daily so you can meet your goals.

  • Set yearly goals, but don’t let the end part of those goals freeze you. Make sure that the goal has actionable steps that are small enough to make progress on daily and that you can measure. Work on one scene a day, or write 500 words, or spend (enter amount of time like 15 min here) in your MS. This will help you focus on things on a day to day basis.
  • To continue on with the above suggestion, break your todo’s into even smaller chunks and then work on them separately throughout the day as you have time. As much as I would love to have all day to work on things, I don’t get that opportunity. I’m finding five min here and there help me a lot. I spend many five minutes looking at my phone. I’m trying to use that time more productively.
  • Find some way to reward yourself. Be it stickers, coloring, chocolate. I find stickers and coloring are soothing for me and I’ve been adding them to my planner (took me a long time to get on the wasi tape bandwagon). I also place a sticker on a tracking sheet everytime I touch my MS. I find it very satisfying.
  • Work on your ms before checking email and your phone. Those many side visits to my phone seem to take more minutes away from the small amount I already have to work with. 
  • Cut yourself some slack. We beat ourselves up mentally and those tapes replay over and over. When you reset your calendar every week, month, and year, reset those tapes too. Forgive and show yourself some grace.
  • Have an accountability partner. Someone you can text daily or every Monday. What are your goals for the week? What did you accomplish last week? Knowing I have to communicate something helps me to stay focused.
  • Little bits of work eventually add up to bigger bits. Focus on the little bits.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. I’m no expert. I’m in the middle of all this just like everyone else. But taking some time to learn about myself and why I do certain things and find out what I need to motivate and keep me focused, has helped me stay on task, which ultimately keeps me moving forward with my writing projects.



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