Now is the time of year that most wedding photographers will tell you those to-do lists start to turn into multiple pages and the hours in the day just never seem to be enough. We're smack dab in the middle of the busy season. And with so much going on, it's very easy to start thinking you could give Gumby a run for his money you've tied yourself in so many knots.
Deep breaths now. It's going to be ok.
I think the hardest thing to figure out when things start getting overwhelming, is just where the heck to even start. There's SO much that needs to get done and the list is piling up. And you lose precious time spinning yourself in circles trying to figure out what it is you should do first, all the while thinking about all that still has to be done.
Seriously, take those deep breaths with me now. It really is all going to be ok.
A couple weeks back, I found myself in precisely this predicament. We had so much going on and the list was adding up so quickly that I wound myself up into a paralysis of sorts: I had no idea where to even start. I legitimately felt like I couldn't breathe. And I spent all my time feeling defeated before the day had even begun. In short, my approach was not working.
Lucky for me, it was right around this time that Justin's parents stopped in for dinner on their way driving through. And as I was talking to them about all that was going on and how frozen I felt, Justin's dad reminded me of something that we had all learned at a small business conference a few years back: Just Win the Day.
The "Win the Day" principle isn't about doing it all in one day or being super human. It's about taking these overwhelming tasks and dividing them up into smaller parts that don't seem quite so daunting. It's about taking the small steps every single day that suddenly add up into the full length of the journey in no time at all. It's about holding yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection.
In short, the Win the Day list says I might not be able to do everything that still needs to be done in just this one day (in fact, I know I can't), but if I can just accomplish these 3, 5 or 10 things then I can say that I've won this day. And tomorrow I'll try to win it again. And the day after that, and the day after that. And little by little, chipping away at it like that, suddenly everything starts to get done.
Here are my top 3 tips on How to Win the Day:
1. Make a list that has both recurring & one-time items on it I start my lists with the things I want to do every day to be able to say I've won. These are things like: working out, posting a blog post, going on a walk with Cooper, doing one hour-long focused attack on email, and doing at least one nice thing for my husband. :) I also know that to keep up on things like social media and making sure that I'm taking the time to comment on other people's posts as well, I need to give myself set goals for that. Maybe I'll end up doing more posts than that or leaving more comments, but as long as I hit those minimum numbers then I can say I've won the day. In addition to those recurring items that always make up part of winning the day, I will also then add in somewhere between 3-5 specific things from my to-do list that are the most pressing. These are things like culling a job for the blog, writing a section of The Guide, or working on a talk for an upcoming conference. Which brings me to tip #2.
2. Prioritize. When I'm adding in those 3-5 extra items, I always ask myself "What are the things that absolutely HAVE to happen today?" and that's what goes on the list. If they can float for the day, then they don't go on the list yet. Once I finish my Win the Day list, I may have enough time to just go ahead and do them. That happens a lot. But... I might not. And giving myself permission to make that call, helps me adopt that standard of grace. And let go of perfection. Because what I've discovered, is that grace gets you heck of a lot further anyway.
3. Start again. If something comes up and for some reason I can't do even just what's on my "Win the Day" list, I just chalk it up that sometimes life happens. I don't waste time beating myself up over it. I just make a promise that I'll start again the next day and work a little harder to make up for it.
What I love about this approach is that it gives me a manageable list to tackle. And even more than that, it takes that swirling, vortex of crazy that is all the things that I need to get done in my life.....and it removes all the noise and allows me to just FOCUS. Focus on the task at hand. Focus on one thing at a time. Focus on getting things done like a boss. And for everything that doesn't make the list that day, I've replaced Gumby with Scarlett O'Hara....