In her phenomenal book on the writing process Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott shared the story of a time when her younger brother was overwhelmed by a school project. He was supposed to categorize a large number of birds, but had put off the project until the last minute. Distraught, he sat at the kitchen table ready to break down in tears. Lamott’s father sat beside him, put his arm around him, and said “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of work required to complete a project. Sometimes that overwhelm is due to a lack of definition of the work, and sometimes it’s the result of an overall sense that we’re never going to get it done.
In both cases, charting a clear, measurable course for completion is the best approach.
Break the work down into manageable chunks. Make a list of those chunks. Block time for each chunk. Then, take it chunk by chunk. It’s amazing how simply making a small amount of progress can lighten your spirits and cultivate a sense of momentum.
What is the “bird” you need to complete next to make progress on an important project?
All creative work is accomplished task by task. Don’t allow the weight of the undone tasks to cause you to despair. Take them one at a time.
Question: What is the next “bird” that you need to complete?