A Simpler, Stress-Free System?

Posted on Oct 23, 2011 in freelance | 0 comments

I’m excited about this recent post by Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writer’s Digest and blogger of There Are No Rules. The title of the post is My Secret for Battling Procrastination, but I think it’s actually more about how to focus your attention and make reasonable goals than about motivating yourself.

Thank goodness for Jane. I can really use some of her tried-and-true wisdom on this topic.

It seems I’m always planning out my collection of grandiose goals, only to find (hours/days/weeks later) that I’m stressing myself out trying to micromanage every detail of my life for the next year.

Even just this morning, I attempted (again) to map out the phases of my major goals, point by point, in hopes of seeing into the future and being more productive with the here and now. And like every other time, I could feel the tension and anxiety creeping into my heart, rendering me useless.

I’ve got good news, though. The difference between this morning and many other previous “planning” sessions is this: I finally realized that this system is inefficient and must go.

The thing is, I’m so new at most of these projects, I have no idea where I’m headed from one week to the next–and that’s okay. There is a learning curve to overcome and a new path to pave for myself. And I’m only just headed down that path.

After 3 hours of excel table manipulation and labored breathing, I finally closed the file, shut my computer, and declared this system dead. It doesn’t work for me, and I’m a creative person, so it’s time to find / create / customize something else that does work.

After over a year of system insanity, I’m finally ready to try something new and simpler.

The reason I like Jane’s advice in this post is because her system is not only simple but also promotes a nice balance of focus. It allows you to see what’s up ahead and plan your time, but it also keeps the near future–all those intimidating white-water rapids–out of your way until you are ready to tackle them. And the way the system works, you may not even know you’re heading down those rapids until you’re past them.

In a nutshell, it’s a way to keep yourself from freaking out over too many new and scary things while still accomplishing tasks throughout the week.

I also like the worksheet she provides. The language she uses plays more to the emotional self than to the practical, robot self, asking questions like “What do I need to do to feel most satisfied?” instead of “What tasks do I need to complete to be successful?”

After attempting to “plan my goals” this morning, I’m feeling burned out with the whole planning thing. Still, I want to try out Jane’s system and see if it might make me feel better and more productive about my life.

Once my brain stops churning smoke and I can get the gears running on this new idea, I’ll let you know how it goes.




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