If I'm Cleaning, I Must Have A Big Project

I got so much done on Monday morning:

  • Picked fresh tomatoes to have for breakfast (they’re finally ripe!)
  • Made banana bread (the bananas were going bad!)
  • Cleaned the kitchen (breakfast & baking mess gone!)
  • Cleaned the bathroom (it needed it!)
  • Answered email (I was offline all weekend!)
  • Straightened up my closet (dirty clothes were piling up!)
  • Cleared my desk (bills had to be paid!)

After finishing these things, I sat at my desk practically breaking my arm patting myself on the back for my productivity.

Yay me. Doing all this stuff that needs to get done.

While that’s technically true, it’s not really the truth. The truth is that I’ve been thinking a lot about that novel I started last November and abandoned due to a bad case of Carpal Tunnel.

I really want to get back to that novel. And I wanted to start on Monday morning.

Cue urgent yet unimportant stuff.

Finishing the novel is a big undertaking, even though at 33,000ish words it’s two-thirds done by NaNoWriMo standards. And now the finish it in November pressure is gone too. There’s a certain amount of delayed gratification to working on a novel.

On the other hand, scrubbing a tub and making it shiny? Baking yummy banana bread? Even sending emails? Relatively instant gratification.

Find Quicker Gratification

It seems to me a little magical trick I learned from Jen Louden at her Taos Writers Retreat is in order: Conditions of Satisfaction. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned these little wonders before.

Basically, they’re about creating some parameters around a big project or an on-going practice, so you have opportunities with each session to feel satisfied, a sense of completion, enoughness.

Otherwise, if you don’t have this set up, you know how it is. Giant project looming over you, stomping around, announcing in that oh-so-superior voice: IT’S TOO BIG. IT’LL NEVER BE FINISHED. WHY EVEN BOTHER.

It’s hard to hear the tiny voice of the why bother part that inspired you in the first place.

Conditions of Satisfaction to the rescue!

Now the deal for these is that they have to be measurable by facts (not feelings), require only you to complete and have a time element.  And when I use these with myself and with my clients, I also like to make them completely doable. Almost ridiculously easy to me.

Trust me, the boost you get from that feeling of completion will carry you beyond your expectations. And if you’re just not feeling it, you can do your bit for the day and move on.

So what are they already?

For my writing project, sure, I’d love to write an hour a day, or 1700 words like I did for the first couple of weeks of November, but that in no way seems ridiculously doable to me. So I’m going to start very, very small, and my Condition of Satisfaction for this project is to spend 10 minutes per day with the project.  I’m not even going to say writing specifically at this point, because I need to read what I have before I can begin writing again.

See what I mean? Imminently doable. A commitment I can wholeheartedly agree to with myself.

Ready to make a ridiculously small commitment to a project or practice?  Let us know about it in the comments.

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