We are intensives. We excel at seeing the big picture, and drawing the maps that we and our business can follow to take us to our goals. But with all of those moving parts, how do we decide which piece to move next? Sometimes it’s deciding to do just one thing, and then another just one thing. Sometimes it’s about finding the sticking point in a project or process and un-sticking it. And sometimes that sticking point is not what we think it will be.

Notes and Transcript:


recorded 8 December 2022.


Hi, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Today I want to talk about abundance and overwhelm, and intensiveness. And how do we balance all of this?

So, I looked at what has become my craft table today. It has bottles of fountain pen ink, paint brushes, dip nibs, a leather desk cover that helps me do better when I'm working on a single sheet of paper. It also has a pile of sewing stuff, the sewing machine is on the floor next to it. And now two brightly colored pieces of fake fur. I've got a lot going on.

And in the back of my head, there's another thing, there's a sewing project that I haven't even started yet. That's for Christmas for one of my partners. And it's, it's something I'm doing kind of from the design level forward. I'm not working from an existing pattern, I'm working from measurements and concepts. And that's really exciting. And it's a project I've had in my mind for a while, but it's gonna require some attention, some time, some focus.

I am also, as some of you are probably aware, preparing to move. I've got a lot going on. When I walked down my hallway- my apartment has a large hallway off of which most of the rooms come. When I walk down my hallway, part of the wall of the hallway now has a contact paper, removable, Peel and Stick whiteboard on it. Two large sections. On which I'm organizing one of the projects I'm doing for one of my clients.

That client is a small nonprofit. And my job is to help them get organized and get systematized and go from being a casual organization that was just a few people pulled together to some thing that has some, some structure and some systems and the ability to function and move forward, not reliant on particular individuals, but instead reliant on procedures, standard operating procedures. It's a great project, I'm having a lot of fun, I'm really excited about what this organization does. And I'm really excited about helping them to streamline it so that they can require less energy to do more, and serve more people.

But I have to keep it on the whiteboard, because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to keep all the moving parts in my head. With all the moving parts up there where I can see them, I can see that I am making progress. From the left side to the right side of the lists that I made, from the beginning to the middle. Which is appropriate, we're about at that point where we're moving from beginning to middle, from basic concepts and planning to implementation. It's exciting, but I need the whiteboard for it.

In some fantasy world, I have whiteboards like that for everything. One for my sewing, and one for my writing, and one for my business, and one for any projects within my business. That's how I do it. I do it that way, because sometimes I need a map. And when I need a map, I can't do it on a computer screen. A computer screen isn't big enough. Miro helps. But it only helps so much. Sometimes I just need four feet wide by three feet tall or six feet wide by three feet tall. A lot of space, a lot of visual landscape to map things out on.

This is a time of year when there are a lot of moving parts for a lot of us. Some of us work in organizations that are particularly oriented toward the holidays. And so for those of us who are in that position, it's important to be able to keep all of those moving parts going.

And then if you celebrate a holiday at this time of year, it's important to keep all of those moving parts going. What's happening and where and with whom and who's getting gifts and who's getting cards and what's happening next. And then for some of us, we pick this inconvenient time of year to move and so there are all these parts of that: signing a lease, and finding a place to sign a lease on, and moving the things, and wrapping up the old residence.

And of course, for a lot of people there's family conflict or family stress or family grief or all three. People die. People come or don't come to holidays. People have conversations that they just can't hold in anymore. So what do we do? How do we handle this? For me, it's really easy to get into an overwhelm state, and from the overwhelm state to get frozen. And when I'm frozen, I can't do any of it.

I asked recently on my Facebook page, if my intensive friends were in "intensive go" or "intensive stop" mode, because a lot of you, a lot of you are intensives. And a lot of you are in a different kind of mode than you're used to this time. I personally am between modes, I'm both exhausted and just want to stop, and inspired and just want to go. And so I find myself caught in this tug of war. How do I get out of that? How do we get out of that?

For me, the answer is entirely counterintuitive, especially given what I just said, about needing a huge landscape so I can map everything out. I need the landscape. But then I need to pull something off the landscape and focus down, all the way down. What is the next and only the exact next thing that has to happen in order for my day to move forward? In order for my week to move forward in order for this project to move forward? What is the one next thing? Can I do that one next thing? Can I check that one next thing off the list and move it from the right side to the left side? Cross it off, check it off, and then do the next thing? The one next thing.

Once I have laid out the map, then I can stop worrying that I'm going to forget something. Stop worrying that something hasn't been accounted for. And focus down on that one next thing, this next thing needs to happen in order for the next thing to happen. And I let myself iris down. I let myself get really in close.

If you're a photographer that's actually irising out, that's opening up the iris until the only thing in focus is this thing right in front of you. One thing. Just one thing. And that is so tricky when you're an intensive who is seeing the whole map. But this is where our hyper focus comes into play. Let yourself see the whole map. And then set a timer, set a time block. Say "for the next hour, I'm only focusing on this one thing." Everything else is still there. It's still there on the map. I don't have to worry about forgetting it. But for this moment, I can put it down and just this one thing.

This morning, I "just one thinged" an email, I "just one thinged" an invitation. I "just one thinged" a lease signing. I just one thing, just one thing, just one thing. And now it's just afternoon and I have "just one thinged" a whole lot of things instead of staying stuck. Instead of being mired in the awareness that there were so many things.

True confessions, I somehow am incapable of doing that with moving. When it comes to boxes and packing. I am almost helpless. So for those things, I will be asking for help. I will be getting help. People will be coming and helping me, sitting with me, doing those things for me and I will do something else for them that I can do. Because this particular thing is too hard. And that's the other thing: noticing if there's something you're stuck on, if there's something you're caught on, if there's a a hitch or a burr in the list.

Here's another example. When I wash dishes- I don't really mind washing dishes, I kind of like the water on my hands. I don't have a dishwasher, so I do it all one dish at a time. When I wash dishes, and I put them up to dry, the drying dishes become the stick point. The drying dishes are the bottleneck because if there are dishes drying, then I can't wash the dishes. But the thing that bothers me is not neatly lined up dishes that are drying. The thing that bothers me that I want to act on that I'm motivated to change is the dirty dishes in the sink.

So I have to recognize that in order for me to act on the impulse to move forward, I'm going to have to empty the dishes out of the drainer even though they don't bother me. And honestly, if there was enough space, they could just stay there until I use them again. They're pretty. They're tidy. They look lined up. I have a lovely bamboo dish rack, and not very many dishes, so it works. But that's not a thing that I can do, because I have a small, lovely bamboo dish rack, so my dishes need to be put away before more dishes can be washed.

And that's fine. But that means I have to unstick the stuckpoint, I have to do the thing that I don't have an impulse to do, so that I can do the thing that I do have an impulse to do. And often, the driving factor isn't even the dirty dishes in the sink, it's that I want to cook something. And I know that when I cook that thing, I'm going to need to put the dishes into the sink. But if the sink already has dishes in it, then I won't be able to do that. And then everything's gonna get backed up. So I have to recognize where the block is, and change that.

So what do we do in our businesses? Maybe the block is opening the software to write the email. Maybe the block is figuring out how to lay out the webpage. Maybe the block is feeling like you don't know what to say in your copy. Maybe the block is calling the person, talking to the person. Maybe the block is you don't know what to say when you start that email. Maybe the block is even further back, maybe the block is feeling insecure about what you're selling, not sure that people will want it. Maybe the block is exhaustion.

Scrolling all the way back to wherever the block is, and giving the block some tender, gentle attention. Not accusatory. Not shouty and pushy. Just "hey, I noticed this feels stuck. What do we need to do to move it even just a little bit? What do we need to do to move it?"

So what's the one thing that you're going to focus on from your giant map? And if you're not starting it, where are you stuck? What's the one thing that needs to be unstuck so that you can do the one thing on your map so that you can move forward? Just one thing. One thing and then another thing. You can still hyper focus on that one thing. You just need to figure out what it is. Thanks for tuning in.