Archives for posts with tag: project management is built on incremental change over time

I didn’t get as much sleep last night as I’d have liked, but the sleep I got was restful. No nightmares. I’ve wrestled a bit with anxiety, this morning, which prevented me sleeping longer, or more deeply. I finally just got up.

I spent some time meditating, before I made coffee. Feels good to be restoring a reliable meditation practice, and letting go of the vague feelings of shame or guilt that had occasionally been surfacing as a result of letting a valuable effective practice fall behind. I know how effective it is; just a couple days into a “New Year’s” commitment to meditate more reliably, my Traveling Partner commented, last night, that I “seem so much less stressed”. ­čÖé

I think about the “you’re not lazy, bored, or unmotivated…” video. I sip my coffee and consider my fears. What holds me back? I leaf through an old day planner. Remember those?

I relied on this planner to hold my life together for a few years, but it wasn’t the solution to everything.

New Year’s resolutions come and go. Dreams become goals, become plans, become actions, and eventually become outcomes of one sort or another… or disappointments through lack of action. I know I am not the only human being who struggles with the fears that hold me back. I watch the video again. There are things I’d like to do with my life… there is limited time to do them in.

I breathe, exhale, relax, and feel the anxiety that surged when I thought about the many things I also “need” to do, begin to recede. It’s an interesting exercise. I think about the thing I could undertake to start, do, or finish, my anxiety goes crazy; I breathe deeply, acknowledging the part I play in my own decision-making, and what I do with my time. I exhale, relaxing again, with a measure of self-directed kindness, and understanding that “things can feel so difficult, sometimes”, and the anxiety falls away. Back and forth. (Am I seriously playing with my anxiety?? Wtf?) Like wiggling a loose tooth; it is uncomfortable, but hard to resist doing.

Life can feel so overwhelming at times; the dreams, the goals, the chores, the errands, the tasks, the resolutions, the commitments, the projects, the responsibilities… they all pile up and compete for attention, and for limited bandwidth. Some are my own, others are imposed upon me externally. Some have some urgency. Others are deceptively lacking in apparent urgency, but more important things rely on them, in the future. Some I earnestly want for myself, but lacking encouragement, I give up on them. Others meet needs expressed by other people, and I vacillate wildly whether to do them at all. I guess I’m not surprised how often I find myself stalled, and at a standstill, just… not doing things. Realistically, I also don’t feel physically able to “do things” continuously throughout the entirety of the portion of the day during which I am awake; fatigue and pain are limiting factors that require some care…which becomes a handy excuse all its own.

About that… pain does not make getting shit done any easier. No surprise there. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a whole new year, or not. Pain sucks. I have another sip of my coffee and really think that over. Pain is pain, for sure, but… I’m not the only human being fighting to live a good life in spite of the pain I live with. Hell, I’m fairly fortunate that physical pain is my greatest day-to-day challenge, actually – things could be much more complicated than that. I let that go, and consider what I can do with my day, today, to support the quality of life I most want, in the most skillful way, with the time and resources I’ve got, while still feeling as well as I am able to, and enjoying the best possible self-care I can offer myself. It seems a worthy goal. (This approach is often where my “to do lists” begin, honestly. Very “tactical”. Not especially strategic.)

I push myself to “think farther out”, beyond this one day. What can I do with my day, today, that builds that quality of life farther out in the future, not just here, and now? Building blocks. Getting to those is fairly easy, and it is quickly apparent that most of those also have “building blocks” of their own; tasks that need to be completed in order to complete another more complex task, in order to further a project along its way, in order to get something done that may, at some point, result in a goal being achieved, or quality of life being improved. Fuuuuuuck. It all seems so messy, and chaotic, and human, and… omg, so many verbs!! Merely lobbing verbs at tasks isn’t ideally suited to bringing dreams to life, or achieving goals. Organizing my thoughts is worthwhile, having a plan is helpful… neither reduce the number of verbs or the amount of effort involved in making a great life, or reaching those far off goals, I guess, but the clarity of mind is useful, and often, within the planning and consideration, there are new observations to be made regarding how various goals and plans dovetail with each other. Small changes in timing or resources or “order of operations” can result in amazing things… Every journey feels easier with a map. (This is driving my thoughts towards day planners and project management applications. lol)

…”Every journey feels easier with a map”…

…I start thinking things over differently… How will I draw this map? I am my own cartographer… and it’s time to begin again. ­čÖé

This morning I am looking ahead in life, just beyond the completion of a major life project that I am at long last preparing to undertake quite seriously. Scary. Verbs. Tons of verbs. Also…a very significant requirement to sort out the tasks from the projects. My way of thinking tells me that any given project is made up of any number of tasks on which completion is dependent. Tasks are easier – do the steps, take the action, follow through on a detail; there are verbs involved, and often not so very many. Do the thing. Done. Projects seem…bigger. So many tasks. So much time. So much timing. The order tasks are completed in may matter for a project. Some are dependent on each other…often not immediately recognizably so.

I’m pretty decent with task management, and doing the verbs on small things – do the thing. Done. I’m pretty strong there. Having a routine eases the impact of having many tasks, and gives an illusion of skillful project management, sometimes this is a very nice thing that provides me a sense of fulfillment and achievement – I get so much done one task at a time, over many tasks! Unfortunately, until I break a large project down to tasks, sorted in an effective order, and begin handling things task by task, I can find myself feeling quite incredibly overwhelmed by the details, or sucked in by a method of organizing the work, and not making real progress toward project completion. Frustrating. It matters to take my time, and to be reminded that incremental progress sometimes feels quite slow, but it does keep things moving forward.

The forest and the trees; perspective matters.

The forest and the trees; perspective matters.

Today, I find myself really committing to two projects that will need to be managed in tandem; they affect each other’s outcomes over time. I got excited about both, then as the magnitude of workload starts to sink in, I feel… afraid. Yeah. Wow. Insecurity speaks up. Excitement and dread feel too similar for this to be effortless; I suspect there will be many opportunities to practice good practices, to breathe, to take care of me, to be patient with myself, to be mindful. Today I am practicing taking steps – and since steps are not quite tasks, but still move each project forward, I’m on my way! Step one – identify the tasks needed to complete each project.

I enjoyed the morning over coffee with ┬ámy traveling partner, and talked about shared and individual needs┬áregarding one of these┬áimportant life projects. I sat down at my desk feeling clear-headed and sure of purpose, a very nice feeling, and begin listing all the tasks involved in the project that I could think of off the top of my ┬áhead. It’s a start, and today a start is all I really need – once I have the tasks sorted out, doing them seems an easy (ish) thing. ­čÖé ┬áYep. There are still verbs involved. I’m doing some today.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Today is a good day to do the verbs, step-by-step, task-by-task, moment-by-moment. Today is a good day for a new journey.