Having a lot of big projects on your to-do list can be really intimidating. Sometimes, just looking at the massive list of goals and projects on my Trello board can create a sense of anxiety. There’s just so much to do and I seem to create five new tasks for every one that I finish. It can be overwhelming. Occasionally, I even wonder if I’m taking on too much.
But then there are days like today.
When browsing freelance writing opportuities, I always try to submit proposals for 3 jobs I believe I have a good chance of getting. Then, I submit one really optimistic proposal for a project that seems just a little out of reach. I know it’s a longshot, but I put my proposal in anyway. You never know what’s going to pay off or who might be willing to take a chance on you. But if you don’t try to reach just a little further, you’ll never know what might be just within your grasp.
So, I take the shot, reaching out to one website, company, or publication that I’d be absolutely thrilled to get the opportunity to write for. Then I check in on all of my major projects to make sure that everything is up to date, one project at a time. I update a few profile photos, edit a line in a bio, double check an email address or bit of contact info, and move on to the next project.
Not only is this practical, it can also be surprisingly enlightening. It’s all too easy to see your project list as a neverending queue of tasks that you’ll never be able to finish. The tasks you’ve already completed might be just as massive, but those tasks fall away. Maybe they get archived or moved to your Done List. Maybe you delete them entirely. Even if you leave them visible, choosing simply to cross them off or fill in the checkboxes as you go, there is almost always more to do than you’ve already done.
This is especially true if you work on your projects sporadically. Even if you’re making a lot of progress, the time you spend not working can make that progress seem minimal. It might even seem like you’re not really making any progress at all.
An unchecked project can feel abandoned. You forget about that time you woke up in the middle of the night to write a scene for your book. You forget about that morning that you were so inspired by a blog post idea while taking a shower that you wrote the entire thing before even drying your hair. You forget about the paragraph you wrote here, the social media posts you scheduled there, the piece of art you finished and uploaded to your portfolio. When we think about progress, we tend to think forwards, looking at what we want to do, what we need to do, what we haven’t done yet. But looking backwards is just as important. It allows us to see the bigger picture and can even remind us of why we do what we do.
Today I did a quick check-in on my biggest projects and I’m so glad I did. It showed me how far I’ve come and how much I’ve actually accomplished. it put things into perspective in a really great way. I still have a neverending list of tasks on my to-do list, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of awesome. I can’t wait to check in and see my projects grow and change. I’m actually looking forward to my next check-in.
If your multi-project to do list makes you feel even a little bit anxious, stop everything, just for a moment, and take a look at the projects themselves. Open that novel you’ve been writing. Look at your facebook page or Linkedin profile. Open your portfolio or writing samples collection. Visit your blog or business website. Check in on each of your projects, forgetting for a moment about all of the things you still haven’t done and look at what you’re making. Isn’t it great?
Do you get to do list anxiety when working on multiple projects? Have you tried doing a multi-project check in session? How did it make you feel? Comment and share your thoughts.