…because some thoughts are worth remembering
Getting started is hard. The first step from day dreaming of ideas can be paralyzing.
Writing is my savior. There is something magical about writing things down. Just by taking pen to paper, my psyche is soothed (and for some reason, typing in front of a computer won’t cut it). When I feel like I can’t get something started or feel stressed, I reach for a piece of scrap paper. It’s important that it’s scrap paper, because otherwise I would feel what I am about to jot down is not worthy of the paper I am writing it on. I often write on back of outdated business cards because they seem to be in plenty of supply.
Then you jot down whatever thoughts you have. Any thoughts. Doesn’t matter if one thought was a thing and the other one is an action. You keep writing, one per card. Business cards or sticky notes work well because their small size forces you to just jot down one idea per card. This process should take no longer than 15 minutes. You are now ready to sort the ideas into groups. Themes will emerge, as well as time dependencies. I group them one way (e.g., where the fixed variable is time, so I will organize them in order of what has to happen first) consistently. If that didn’t get your juices flowing, I would reshuffle the cards and group them another way (e.g., by project type, or budget priority, or by managing staff’s responsibilities). The thickness of the business cards makes it easily for you to shuffle around to organize and group the ideas later.
For me, it’s enough to get started or unstuck.
Recently, I realized it’s also a type of mise en place process for me to clear the dining table of clutter or a comfortable spot on the floor to be able to spread these idea cards around that also clears the mind.
For longer projects where I need to continue to make some progress on a daily basis, I grab a cheap notebook and force myself to write something about that project (whether it’s a task I completed, contacts I need to make, notes of research for the project, etc.) to fill up a page. This way, I can avoid the guilt that snowballs inside me of not working on something and then not being able to restart because it’s been so long that “breaking the silence” deserves accomplishment of a significant task, which you feel you can no longer deliver, because… it’s been so long.
In any case, for me, it begins with making concrete into words scribbled on paper, that gets things started.
Photo: Inside the Forbidden City, Beijing, China