I have been thinking a lot lately about why we put so much pressure on ourselves to get things done.
It never used to be like this.
And as a result, I find myself often feeling overwhelmed with trying to complete the edits for the book as well as all the other ‘business’ related author activities.
And it probably doesn’t also help when I procrastinate 🙂
I am struggling with editing and putting it off. So I looked into why I’m behaving in this way.
And it simply comes down to this:
- I am too distracted with doing too many things all at once
- I feel I need to be always switched on
- I’m not resting enough
- FOMO: fear of missing out if I don’t watch that YouTube video on how to market your book or the read the latest article on how to run a successful business.
Simply put, I am lost in this storm of information.
Today we have more things competing for our limited attention. And we can’t do everything. Nor should we have to.
So I now I need to go back to basics and prioritise. This means I need to re-focus. What is actually important? What needs to get done today? What can wait until tomorrow?
The below acronym (credit to John Lee Dumas’s podcast) is what I will ask myself each morning to boost my productivity without driving me to despair or overwhelm.
What’s my F.O.C.U.S?
C: Course of action
This simple question makes you re-focus on what you should be working on.
Success is waiting at the finishing line
I often say success is found when you cross the finishing line.
Anyone can start something. But it takes courage and persistence to keep going until the end.
Does every activity or task you do take you closer to crossing that particular finishing line?
It’s better to get one thing properly executed on a day rather than starting ten things and completing none. Success lies only at the finishing line. Not at the starting line.
It’s easy to start. It’s 10x harder to finish.
So ask yourself, what’s the one thing you are going to totally focus on getting to completion before your day is over TODAY?
Then and only when this task is done, can you move onto the next task.
Chunk your goal into smaller tasks.
I know I’m procrastinating on my editing because I need to edit 60k words.
This seems like a HUGE task for me. The very thought of it paralyses me with fear. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start.
But since writing this post, I have now focused my efforts on breaking my editing task down into the following manageable chunks:
- Define task: I am editing three chapters per day. Not 1 or 2, but 3. If I do more, that’s a bonus (and a perfectly valid reason to eat cake).
- Focus: Having three chapters to edit daily gives my day a focus.
- Measurable: I can measure my success by reviewing how many chapters I edited that day. Edited 3 chapters? hooray! Didn’t edit 3 chapters? Why? do I need to review my progress? Are 2 chapters per day a more suitable aim?
- Shorten the feedback loops: This short feedback loop boosts my motivation and lowers my propensity to procrastinate i.e at the end of the day I can see if I was successful in my goals by checking to see if I have edited 3 chapters.
This is all a learning journey
When you find yourself overwhelmed or procrastinating, it’s likely you are trying to do too much. Or you don’t have a clear focus.
Be clear on what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it.
Also, don’t compare your efforts to people who are ten years ahead of you on the path you have just started.
Yes, look at them to see the direction they are headed in. But don’t think you need to do EVERYTHING they have achieved (over 10 years) within 24 hrs!
Race against yourself only. But do look up time to time to learn from the masters and to ensure you are on the right track.
Instead of procrastinating and thinking about how painful the editing process is (because it is!!), I’m just going to sit down and do the work. This is what author-entrepreneurs do; they have a professional mindset. They turn up and do the work.
I know I tend to put too much pressure on myself at times to get the book finished. But what I’m is learning is that all good work takes time and patience.
Reading this post by Joanna Penn also provided me with a humble reminder that all good things take time.
After ten years of solid work, Joanna got nominated for a prestigious award. It was a humble reminder that we all start at the same pace but it’s only the winners who are persistent enough to get to the crossing line where it matters. You need F.O.C.U.S.
What’s your F.O.C.U.S for today, this week, this month? Please share in the comments below.