Project Overwhelm and How to Let It Go

Hi there,

Have you started a project you thought would be pretty easy? You make time to do it, gather and buy what you need; maybe you even put on your favorite playlist and pour your favorite drink. You are ready! You feel a rush of empowerment and you pat yourself on the back for doing it yourself, and having the courage to begin. Yay, You!

Then you start, and you realize that you actually don’t have what you need. That thing you bought? It’s not the right thing. Or, maybe you realized that your knowledge isn’t enough for the task, you need to learn a new skill. So you calmly recalibrate. You’ve got this!

You resolve to find out exactly what you need to buy, or what you need to learn, and then do it as quickly as possible. Easy, right?

No. Not easy. Because you soon realize that the thing you need to buy is too expensive or, even worse, it’s back-ordered. And, that skill you need to learn? People get degrees in that.

You take a sip of your coffee to get your bearings and recharge, but it’s now cold, and your playlist sounds annoyingly upbeat. You look at the clock. Three of your four hours of project time are up. You have a sand-through-the-hourglass feeling. Soon, your kids will be home, dinner will need to be made, and the bedtime craziness will begin. When you look around, you see that you have a bigger mess than when you started, and your stomach feels like it’s full of gravel.

Does this sound familiar? If you are like me, you may feel jittery, unfocused, and frustrated all at once. You may know that the best thing to do is clear your head, and then make a plan, but you may have a hard time letting go of your original hopes for the project. For me, there are fewer things harder than admitting I can’t do what I thought I could do. I want to see results, and I want to see them right now.

I had one of those moments on Saturday. I’m taking a blogging course and I realized that I can’t move beyond the first unit unless I set up a self-hosted website. If you don’t know what that means, you are not alone. Hello, black hole!

Luckily my husband saw the crazed look in my eyes, which matched my unkempt hair, so he put his hands on my shoulders and said very wisely, “Take a shower. Take a walk. Then do the right next thing.”

These could be the three best pieces of advice in the universe.

But let me tell you, they weren’t easy to follow. Because when I get into a spin, I find it hard to stop spinning. I have to force myself to move on. With that last hour of project time, I got in the shower, and instantly felt better, and clearer. Then I went on a walk, and the fresh air and the quiet helped me reset my brain. When I got home, I sat down to write down a new plan for the project. It seemed so much more achievable. It started with these steps:

  1. Do what I can with what I have or what I can get for free.
  2. Plan a new timeline and budget for what’s left after step
  3. Hire an expert within my budget to do the things that will be too time consuming for me to do or learn.

If you have projects on your plate this week, give yourself grace and know that you’re not alone. I’m not always sure where the larger path will lead, but when I do the next right thing, it usually leads me to the next one, and eventually, I’m done.

Happy Monday,