On overwhelm

Be careful not to overwhelm yourself with small tasks at the cost of shelving more significant projects. If you had all of your time to yourself every single day, you would have no excuse not to fulfill everything on your task list. However, too many days you don’t live in free situations like that, so it’s difficult to hold yourself to that standard while also working on more important projects.

You get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing instead of tackling one task at a time. On the other hand, most of the days when you fail to be industrious are not a matter of your being busy. Either you started the day off wrong and didn’t wake up early, or you got off to a lousy start by refusing to work when you did get up late—all things that contribute to your slothfulness. Let’s not reduce your work to nothing just because you’ve had a bad couple of days. You don’t need life to be more comfortable—it’s already straightforward enough.

The best way to tackle overwhelm in the face of so many tasks is to be single-minded in the way that you approach them. Some things on your daily task list require mere minutes from you—focus intensely for a few minutes and get them done. The earlier and quicker you can do this, the better. Your mind will preserve energy by not thinking about the fact you have to do it in the first place. On larger projects that may take hours, put yourself on the clock and schedule yourself to go to work” on them. Write it on a schedule and allow yourself not to deviate from that.

This hearkens to Steven Pressfield’s idea of turning pro and showing up to work at creativity rather than creativity showing up to work you. These are all systems, but in the end, it falls to your willingness to get to work and make something happen. Do not surrender to resistance. Resist it with strength by any means possible.