Imagine looking through the window and seeing me sitting, surrounded by papers, and computers (yup, more than 1), tea cups, water bottles, pens, headphones and crumpled tissues….. staring into space. Can you see it?
Now, see me slowly get up, and leave the mess, walk to my bedroom, and lay down on the bed with my arm thrown over my eyes.
This. This has been my current reality on and off for the last week or so.
Just before typing this blog, the words Performance Paralysis popped into my head. So, of course I googled it. Mainly it came up with definitions for Analysis Paralysis – which pretty much is defined as overthinking. While I don’t disagree that I overthink things, I mean I don’t think that I disagree, I think that I do overthink… (lol. C’mon… I had to do it!) At the moment, I believe it isn’t the over thinking that is the issue – it is the lack of action. Lack of focused action to be a bit more specific.
You may recall my blog about spinning plates? https://conquerwithhope.blog/2018/06/03/spinning-those-darn-plates/ How I shared about having too much going on, not saying no to adding more and learning to ask for help?
Well. I am spinning different plates, I have learned to say no, and I have actually hired people to help me, as well as learning what to delegate and what I can do. Now, it seems I have uncovered another level that prior to this – I was totally unaware of.
Performance Paralysis – (in my words) – the lack of ability to take actionable steps when confronted with multiple tasks requiring attention. ex. Upon waking, performance paralysis overtook her as the list of projects raced through her mind, and the feeling of not knowing where to start overcame her.
You see, I have stepped into the digital realm of life. As you know, I am a blogger. You may not know that I also started a YouTube channel a bit over a year ago. I am learning about Affiliate Marketing and content creation, to be able to enhance what I am currently doing. I also opened up my life coaching business (I’ve been coaching for quite a while, just decided it was time to level up with it.) Building a brand as part of my online presence is something done in cracks of time, but has required a lot more training and devotion behind the scenes than I expected.
I am at that stage just before launch, where there is ‘hurry up and wait’ as well as ‘last minute details’; those moments before final countdown – where you ask yourself – is this really going to work? Have I done everything I can to prepare?
Performance Paralysis hits, and my bed calls to me – luring me to step away from all that I said I would do, all that I had planned to do, all that I had promised myself. Here I am, at the point of the little things needing done to finalize, and all I want to do is shut down.
I am sure that there could be a relatively valid argument here that the symptoms that I am describing could be attributed to depression. Of course symptoms taken out of context can make it sound as if a woman is fighting an enlarged prostate because of the similarity of symptoms; so digging deeper I verify with myself that no, this cause and effect isn’t depression related.
One of my neurodivergent friends recently taught me a trick he has picked up as he has learned to control his ADHD. I won’t use the name he’s given this tactic (his language is quite colorful) let’s just say that he calls it the “Do It” rule. When something pops into his head that needs done, or something he walks by needs taken care of – he doesn’t allow himself to think about it – he makes himself do it – immediately. He only commits to 5 minutes, he says that he can convince himself to give 5 minutes to whatever the task is, and then if he gets ‘into the zone’ doing it – he can stay longer – but even if he doesn’t – the task is 5 minutes closer to completion than it was. I believe Mel Robbins may also teach on this, so maybe that is where he got it from; I just know that he has strongly encouraged me to try it, and it has helped.
Today I put into action a simple plan to just let myself pick one thing off of my list that I felt drawn to do, that I felt called to do, and apply 5 minutes of focused attention to it. Well, perhaps you read fast, and this hasn’t taken you 5 minutes to get here, but let me tell you that it certainly has taken more than 5 minutes to untangle the thoughts in my head and let them flow out through my fingertips to create this. Literally, that was as far as I got. But, it was a significant step.
You see, I did that paragraph the other day, I then tackled 5 minutes on my next task. The nice thing was, it was a task completed within 5 minutes, so then I had the victory of marking that off my list! (for my fellow list writers – you can relate to the feeling of satisfaction of marking something off the list, right? It felt so good!!!) I was then able to move on to another project, and certainly didn’t feel quite as overwhelmed.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that I live my life in 5 minute increments and it has solved all of my problems. That just wouldn’t be true. I can tell you though that it has helped me tremendously to add that to my life. Those moments when shut down seems inevitable are no longer as threatening with this tool in my box. I am pleased to say that my list is beginning to be a bit more controlled.
I have also learned of a 15 minute rule. A friend of mine had a large project that had been weighing upon her to do. She finally decided to commit 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week to it. She said that by incorporating that into her schedule – she actually completed this project without having to carve out large blocks of time in her calendar. Her project was to reclaim her overgrown back yard and create an oasis she could enjoy. This was last summer that she worked on it. Now, here it is summer again, and it only needed slight maintenance, and she is out enjoying it, as well as enjoying the pride she feels whenever she goes out there.
Writing this, I begin to think to myself what project could I do that would give me visual satisfaction and a feeling of victory, that could last for a while? I feel like that is a key part of consecutive victories, if in the beginning, as we are working on overcoming Performance Paralysis – if we can figure out small actionable steps to something that we can visually experience a sense of pride of completion – that perhaps that will create a domino effect in our lives of victories. Doesn’t that sound not only reasonable, because lets be honest reason doesn’t drive us like feelings do; but also sounds exciting in the realm of if I can see it done and completed (off of my list!), I know I will be happier?
I have been wanting to replant the green onions that I am growing. They are in little flower pots and are becoming root bound, and not producing as they should. This has been on my list for more than a month. Finally, last week, Ken helped me to purchase a nice whiskey barrel trough planter, a bag of rock and 3 huge bags of dirt. We immediately got the planter set up in the yard. I told him not to worry about it (we were out of time that day), that I would handle it. So far? Nothing. It is all sitting there, waiting for me to take action. I haven’t carved out a chunk of time to do it. Honestly, with my current schedule, I feel as if I don’t have a chunk of time that I can give up for that.
This is where the 15 minutes come in to play. Prior to learning from my friend about her game plan and results – I was certain that starting a job and not completing it would make me feel frustrated, and perhaps even disappointed in myself. However, I can now see this in a different light. It isn’t a huge project – possibly less than 3 hours. So if today I start by just going out and opening the bag of rock and layering it along the bottom of the trough, and then calling that good for a first step, can you see how much easier tomorrow will be? Tomorrow I can get up and handle that first bag of sand. The next day can take the second bag of sand. The following day will be determined by what is needed with the project. Is it time to begin replanting, or do we need more sand first. I have a bunch of the onions and they are in two window boxes and a pot, so the removal and gently trying to separate a bit is what will be time consuming, but again this can be split into different days.
Yes, I have an action plan that is not only reasonable, but also feels like I will soon have a sense of pride and accomplishment as not only will my patio be less chaotic (bags of dirt and pots and plants); but my onions will begin growing beautifully! Living in Florida, this means multiple harvests, as well as these should come back yearly for me to enjoy!
One more action step to help battle the Performance Paralysis that has helped me out, is what I have decided to call a Reality List. My reality list is a list of what things are racing around in my head that need done. To be honest, not everything on that list will get done. By getting them out of my head and on to paper, I am able think more clearly. Then, I review the list, and determine what the priorities are and start there. This has helped me to feel a bit more control.
I created a little gift for you, a PDF that you can print out of a Reality List and To Do List. Send us an email at email@example.com and let us know you would like it, and we will email it out to you! Just a little way we can help you take control of your day too!
Taking action, Amy
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Onion: Photo by Me