Drowning in projects…I need help with my overwhelm

Dear Creativity,

Let’s cut straight to the point. My project list and desire to create is endless. There are so many ideas that now I am trying to remember the ideas that I had. Is that okay? I am not okay with that, but it is reality. I used to have the best excuse for not pursuing my creative projects. As a teacher working in schools, I could blame everything that was not happening in my life on the fact that I was working long hours, my mind and body were always exhausted from the number of emotional exchanges I would have in a day. Something always needed my attention, like lesson planning, grading, or figuring out a student or colleague’s problem. It was endless and I grew comfortable stuffing my creative desires so far down that now I don’t even remember all the projects I wanted to start and finish.

Enter the workday brain break. Thank you for prompting me to purchase a tiny notebook to host all my project ideas and their plans. I need a few more stickers, but for now its color draws me in. These are “One of Kind” projects. Choice sticker if I do say so myself. It is time to get all the ideas out into the world and dust them off. What is the statute of limitations on an idea? I set myself a 10-minute time and pressed play on the lo-fi music mix on Spotify and I was off. Ten projects flowed out with ease. High-five for me adding a doodle to each. I know there are more, but this is a start worth of acknowledgment and a bit of pride. So now that I have my project idea list going, I must ask:

How do I get started on these projects and keep motivated to finish?

Creativity, as much as I love the idea of carrying around my little book of project ideas, I don’t think there are enough stickers and doodles (oh yeah, a project I forgot, #100 days of visual note-taking practice) to get me going and to the finish line. It seems that I need a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to starting and completing projects. So, I’ve decided to create two lists: one of approaches that have failed me in the past, and another of strategies that show promise. By identifying these, I hope to pave a clearer path forward.

Let’s start with honesty. I would not be discussing this with you if project completion wasn’t an issue. Here are the things that I’ve realized don’t work for me:

  1. Relying solely on inspiration. I don’t think I am ever inspired at the “right time.”
  2. Waiting for the “perfect” time. No time ever seems like the right time and if I have time I need to get it all done at once.
  3. Trying to do everything at once. Currently, I have a list of 12 project ideas. They have been coming since I started this letter. Who knows where it will end? I don’t think an ending is the goal.
  4. Keeping ideas only in my head. I guess the ideas are out of the brain and into a notebook.
  5. Setting unrealistic deadlines. I will get this done during my time off from work when I am supposed to rest and recharge. Yes creating is rest, but somehow it doesn’t seem to work when you are stressed or seeking a moment to be still.
  6. Comparing my progress to others. Is it really practical to ban all social media from your life? No place on the internet seems safe from the dreaded judgment and shame.
  7. Working without breaks. When I get lost in the work, I just wanna push through because who knows when I will make the space and time again.
  8. Neglecting self-care. Well if you are gonna squeeze it in, something has to give.

Now, with those pitfalls in mind, let’s explore some methods that might help me turn these ideas into reality:

  1. Breaking projects into small, manageable tasks. A little progress goes a long way. Small steps lead to big wins.
  2. Setting specific, achievable goals. Should I try to do a big creative project in the one week I take off for work? Perhaps not.
  3. Creating a dedicated workspace. I can set up my space to make it easy to start and stop creating. I was just reminded of this need by a member of the Innovation Sanctuary Facebook Group.
  4. Establishing a routine or schedule. I am good at attending meetings and taking classes. Is there a class for this?
  5. Finding an accountability partner. We aren’t meant to be creative alone. Doing things with others who are living a shared experience is the best. I have some ideas brewing on creating space for people to work together, yet apart as creatives.
  6. Rewarding myself for milestones. Yes to gamification. Creativity, I wonder what is a good reward for a creative?
  7. Develop a project queue. All projects are not completed at once. This multipotentialite needs variety and to move where her heart takes her when it takes her there.
  8. Regularly reviewing and updating my project list. This project idea will be a great way to look at what I dream of doing and get focused on what is speaking to me in the moment.

Creativity, I’ve realized that the journey of bringing ideas to life is as important as the destination. By acknowledging what doesn’t work and embracing new strategies, I’m taking the first step toward nurturing my creative spirit. This little notebook isn’t just a collection of ideas; it’s a commitment to myself and you, Creativity.

As I move forward, I’ll experiment with these approaches, finding what resonates best with my rhythm and lifestyle. I may not finish every project, and that’s okay. What matters is that I’m showing up, giving my ideas the attention they deserve, and growing along the way.

So here’s to new beginnings, to dusting off dreams, and to the beautiful chaos of creation. Creativity, let’s dance together (Project #13 – project dance party break playlist) through this journey of starts and finishes, celebrating each step along the way.

Innovatively yours,
Dr. Abigail