Have a long list of tasks? Some difficult? Some personal? Some boring that need to be done asap and some exciting that can't be done without doing the boring first? I know the feeling.
It can be quite overwhelming having too many things to do. It causes stress and anxiety making us freeze on the spot unable to do anything. I get that.
This is a post mostly to remind myself of some tools or ways of thinking that I've seen working for me to get me unstuck so I can do the things I need to do to. If this can help any other person out there, great! If not, at least this is still useful for me.
Progress is progress
Sometimes some tasks seem to be impossible or extremelly difficult. This means that your first try is certainly going to fail.
Example: getting a document from a government institution where you don't speak the language and where their website doesn't explain the requirements very well. In addition to have to get there by 6am otherwise you might not even get your turn. In the first visit, you will certainly spend hours there and still go home without the document or any real progress whatsoever. The thinking here is that going there is not real progress, but it's still progress.
The way I think about this sort of task is that failure -- and repeat failurate -- is still progress.
Sometimes when I can't focus on anything work-related and I keep seeing the mess my place find itself in, I just go and do the chores. I put some laundry in the washing machine, clean the cats' litter box, put dishes in the dishwasher, organize my desk or anything else that is bothering me. Of couse, is better if you do that in your time off, but life is hard.
These are mostly WFH examples, but the same applies to an office. There is usually a dishwasher there or some mess that someone left behind.
Spending 10 minutes doing these things won't be noticed at work, can be easily compensated at the end of day, and have the benefit of unblocking myself getting productivity back on track. Just do it.
Do you have long-term plans? Remind yourself of them
Work might not the most exciting thing ever, but it's still a step towards your long-term goals, right? Taking a step back and looking at the big picture might actually show that today's strugle is not so big after all.
Write stuff down
Sometimes I find that writting anything down unblocks my mind to actually do what needs to be done.
I know some people journal, some people write TODOs, but I find that blogging does the trick for me. Even if I don't publish it -- and I usually don't. This post is one I decided to actually finish it and publish it.
Let it burn mindset
Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed about the amount or difficult of tasks I need to do. When that happens, I pick one of them -- anyone of them, maybe giving some preferences if there are concerning negative consequences -- and just let the rest burn.
Freeing my mind from the burden of worrying for all those other tasks is what I'm looking for here. I might still do them or maybe I don't. It doesn't matter. This is the mindset.
These are some things I've picked up during my life as a developer that helped me get unstuck. If you have any more tips, let me know on twitter! 💪