How to Figure out What to Do Next

Aug 30, 2023

Do you ever sit down to do your creative work or biz stuff or just life stuff and freeze?

Where to start?

At the first item on your list or somewhere else?

What’s most important? No, that’s too scary to start with.

Pick something easier like answer that email…

Oh shit, I opened my email. I’m totally overwhelmed now

How about we check Instagram for a minute, just to chill out?

(Or bake a cake, walk the cat, call your sister, or my personal favorite: organize the Tupperware drawer which contains only two genuine pieces of Tupperware, bought more than 20 years ago at an actual Tupperware party and probably full of nasty chemicals that leaching into the avocados they hold so perfectly.)

Deciding at any given moment what you are going to do with your time is a big cognitive challenge.

Your brain isn’t interested in doing hard things. That resistance you feel? That’s your brain saying no thank you.

Your brain is interested in naps, snacks, and sex (or at least it used to be interested in sex, now it needs a little help).

I haven’t got a perfect system for creatives to share to help you get things done.

Doesn’t exist.

We are all too different. And life is too challenging for anything to work perfectly at least not for long.

Instead, I’ll share what I do that sort of works. Some of the time.

Pick whatever resonates, jettison the rest.

🌟Every day is different.
I spent too many years thinking if I could only dial in the right morning routine, I would never feel lost or flounder again.
All that made me do is feel like a loser by 8 am.
Now I look at my calendar before bed and I plan what a good day might look like.
Maybe it means drinking coffee in bed with Bob, reading my email.
Or maybe it means drinking coffee while writing my novel in my office.
(Either way, there will be coffee.)
Maybe it means I write for 20 minutes and then run with my friends.
Or I write for an hour and half, transition into ​working with clients​ and exercise in the afternoon.
My point? I make every day fit reality. Not someone else’s ideal.

From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.

5 Ways to Start
Your Non-Fiction Book

You can write your book faster, easier, and better.

I’ve written 9 books with about a million copies sold.

I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.

🌟Time blocks feel so good.
I resist them, I forget about them, yet every time I decide “For the next hour I will do X and only X,” I am happy.
Multi-tasking makes me unhappy.
Interrupting myself makes me feel shallow and unsatisfied.
Happiness means doing one thing at a time more of the time. 

🌟 Lean hard on my to-do list.
I use a free app called ​Todoist​.
Everything I need to do goes in the app and gets a date attached.
At the end of the day, I look at my calendar and see what else do I have scheduled?
Aka how much time do I have to do the things on tomorrow’s list?
I prune my list to reflect the actual time available.
Not what I wish was available.
This is HUGE for my motivation because most days, I feel like a winner – I did what I said I would do.
Instead of, “look how many things I didn’t get done.”
Also, my list means I never start the day cold, with no idea of what my priorities are.
I love this practice!

🌟 Do a few small things before the big thing.
The old time management advice of doing the hard thing first doesn’t work for me.
It freaks me out.
I do a few very small discrete items on my list first thing – check email, check the team slack, review a client’s manuscript, something like that.
Yes, those things are at the top of my todoist list.
I get a little dopamine hit, my anxiety goes down, and I’m able to move into a writing time block or whatever my big thing is for the morning.

🌟 Miscellaneous
I keep my phone out of my office most of the time. If I don’t, I pick it up without thinking and start scrolling.
I never have any alerts on my computer pinging at me. Ever.
If I get panicked in the midst of the day, I stop, close my eyes, and ​practice this, too​.

What do you do that helps you navigate your day with focus and love? Hit reply and tell me I read everything even if I can’t always answer.

Thank you for being here!

Want to get your bother on starting now?

Read the first chapter from Jen’s new book for a jolt of fresh perspective and possibility, and a radical reframe on what to do when you are feeling lost, blah, unmotivated, or burned out, in any area of your life or for any reason — even success!

I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.