24 June 2021: Keep Up/Catch Up Game
There's something to be said for not overloading yourself with to-do's, being flexible with your deadlines, and so on, because there's only so much a person can do in a day, a week, a month, etc. Even with knowing it's better to pace yourself, it can be hard to know where to draw the line.
If you don't pace yourself, it turns into a game of Keep Up/Catch Up. As a creative, let me tell you, the Keep Up/Catch Up game is not great for your mental health.
This one does't sound as bad, right? You're achieving your goals, you're staying on track, but it's a bit of a challenge. You do everything you can to stay on top of your goals and sometimes you slip, but you're not left behind the dust.
However, if you're constantly go-go-go, you don't get a chance to breathe. If you're always trying to meet a deadline, there's always something to do, always a stressor lingering in the background.
Obviously, this one is worse. You've fallen behind and now you're rushing to meet any and all deadlines you possibly can before your time runs out.
The pressure of playing catch up means, more than likely, you're letting self-care fall by the wayside because achieving the goal is "higher priority" in the moment. Spoiler alert: it's not higher priority.
So how do we avoid the Keep Up/Catch Up game?
That's a struggle all on its own, isn't it? Trying to find that balance can sometimes take more energy than we'd like, but it's possible.
Be lenient with yourself. If you're falling behind on a goal, take some time to figure out why you've fallen behind. Are you overwhelmed by life circumstances? Do you have too many to-do's? Have you been prioritizing other tasks? Once you've determined the why, forgive yourself. Think about how you can eliminate these blocks on your productivity in the future.
Rollover goals. If you don't finish something, it's okay to bump it to the next day/week/month.
Visual schedule. Having a visual of what you want to accomplish in a planner, on a calendar, on a whiteboard, on your phone, etc., will allow you to get a sense of how much you're planning for yourself. When you look at it, do you feel overwhelmed? If so, it's okay to reduce your goals.
Rewards. Give yourself reinforcements! Working hard deserves rewards.
Adapt. Sometimes you set a goal and realize the circumstances won't allow you to do whatever it is you want to do. Don't be afraid to put a goal on pause, to roll it over, or to change what you're hoping to accomplish. Be flexible.
Nobody is perfect, certainly not me, but the sooner we accept that and forgive ourselves for being human, the better off we'll be both mentally and creatively.