October 16, 2008

The Logjam Effect

Sometimes it seems as though there a one million and one things you want to do. Take up that exercise routine. Finish up that pile of projects at work. Get everything organized in advance for this year's taxes. You look at them all, your list or pile of plans and dreams, and feel... a sense of utter despair and a certainty that you will never get it all done.

You might call it the Logjam Effect. A big pile of great ideas, completely blocking your thoughts and creativity. It happens to all of us every so often. But how do you get out of it? How do you "break through"?

I've found there are two strategies that get me past that point and moving forward again with a fair amount of success:

1) Do anything. Pick one project from the list that is small enough that you can accomplish it fairly quickly. The feeling of getting it done is a bit like the feeling you get when you pay off a bill. You feel a little giddy and you want to do it again. So you jump into another task.

2.Do nothing. If you are really feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, give yourself a small amount of time to run with that feeling. Huddle up for two hours in bed with the blankets over your head. Indulge in some escapism by watching a movie or some cartoons. Get out of the house and take a walk. Just get completely away from everything for a two-hour period. You'll come back feeling better -- slightly recharged, maybe ready to laugh at yourself a little (especially post-hiding under the covers) and ready to work on and look at everything again.

If you fall, get back up again. If you backslide on your saving plan, or bust a section of your budget, take a deep breath and get back on the horse. If you feel like you're trying to juggle too many things at once (a budget AND a savings plan AND retirement investment research) scale back and try to tackle one thing at a time. Ten small steps can take you the same distance as two big ones.

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