If you’re like me and practically every creative person I know, you’ve got more going on than you can reasonably handle. Yet we seem to be missing the message – adding more and more to do doesn’t always feel great. Overwhelm is a real stressor and can degrade the quality of our days.
I try all kinds of things to be sane with my work expectations, and I always return to a simple, quick and easy method to cope with – and fend off – overwhelm. When I share this with my students and clients, it’s a huge relief to them. Finally, a way to begin organizing and prioritizing creative projects.
Our problem is we love many things. At once. All the time. But then we’re running around feeling stressed and not enjoying any one project because we’re devoted to so many of them.
A stern taskmaster would tell you to focus, to choose only one at a time. But I know you and I know me and we can’t do just one thing.
Here’s what I do to have a grip on the projects I take on and how to stop myself from taking on way too much.
I call it Mind Mapping Your Plate.
Here’s how to mind map your month
Before the beginning of the month, take one sheet of paper or a page in your notebook. NOT a big one – just a regular size piece of paper.
Put the month in the middle and make radial bubbles or boxes for EACH MAJOR PROJECT or AREA OF YOUR LIFE.
On the map, put items you are focused on this month. The things that are your priority this month. You can develop out the map with smaller pieces of each project. For the sake of illustrating it for you here, I just added the main projects.
It’s a lot on my plate in June, isn’t it? Notice the box at the bottom: Does not include. I don’t include the things I do on an ongoing basis. I probably should, because then I would have a more accurate picture of ALL the things I am spending my time on. But I use this to manage projects, not my entire schedule.
Notice how travel is a project. Each trip is its own project with planning, taking and returning from. That’s a lot of energy.
Note the # of work days in the middle heart. This doesn’t include travel days and Saturdays and Sundays. Only 13 days in the office! Whoa! That seriously makes me think about how to focus my time and energy on those days.
Since I published this, I have added more things. There’s the copy writing for a client. There’s the interview request. There will always be more things to do. I know it’s difficult to leave space for these things, but I try.
You can also map out writing projects with this method.
See additional notes at the bottom of the mind map.
Have you tried this method for organizing yourself? Do it now! It can take less than 5 minutes. Let us know how it goes.