Managing Project Overwhelm

Some days I have lots of time to work on projects, but I get completely overwhelmed by choices. I have a lot of different interests, after all — I could write (but on which project?), I could work on an app (but which one is closest to being ready?), I could read (but which book?), I could crochet, I could draw, I could get outside with my camera. And this is after I have already let go of several things that weren’t holding my attention anymore.

Then there is the fact that some of my projects are BIG. They feel daunting, and I know that they will take prolonged effort over many days or months. Just thinking about working on those can cause my brain to fuzz out, so I can’t even think of the next step for any of them.

I happened to run across this article on Twitter today, though, and it helped me come back to earth a little: Approaches for breaking down big tasks. It reminded me of some of the things I learned in previous jobs, and from reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done. So I picked one of my app projects and started making a checklist of what else needs to be done on it. This helped me not only decide on next steps, it helped me identify what information I needed to learn first, and find a resource that would help me do that.

I’ve learned that trouble making decisions is an aspect of autism related to executive functioning, as is difficulty with organizing one’s thoughts. I have always relied on lists and notes to keep myself on track — and it worked so well that at first I thought I was really good at those things, instead of struggling with them! But as I’ve gotten older, some of these issues have gotten more pronounced, so it is good to have reminders now and then that I have tools and techniques for managing them.

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2 thoughts on “Managing Project Overwhelm

  1. Glad you liked the post on DifferentlyWired. I’m a big fan of Getting Things Done and it underpins much of my productivity journaling system. Sometimes though I find that the important stuff I need to do is too big to make a dent in so I spend time ticking off easy things on the to-do list. It helps me feel productive but it does not always help me achieve the goals I want to. Since reading “The One Thing” I’ve been trying to focus on what’s important rather than what’s easy to tick off.

    Liked by 1 person

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