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7 Ways to Get Stuff Done When It Feels Hard

Sometimes stuff just feels hard. And in this space of challenge, you may want or need to get the damn thing done. 

These are a things I’ve been wanting and needing to do that feel hard: call dental insurance to resolve a claim issue; go through a big box of mementos that I’d like to sort and organize; figure out potential upcoming travel plans; go rollerskating; start on 2 new workbooks I purchased; write a new blog (lol– I really keep things current around here); a whole lot of other stuff…

Some of these things I want to do because they are important to me, they matter to me, and, yet, they are still difficult for me to prioritize and follow through with for a variety of reasons, including grief, depression, and time management issues. Other items on the list are challenging because they are unfun or not in my areas of strength (Don’t get me started on how overwhelming the hold music is when I try to call my dental insurance.) 

We each arrive to our to-do lists with different skills, interests, and preferences. Additionally. our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health all impact how difficult or easy a task feels. The dominant culture, systems of oppression and privilege, and other circumstances, like the pandemic, also impact our capacity. So, again, sometimes stuff just feels hard.

Some things clients are finding hard right now: college app essays; studying for tests; applying for jobs; scheduling time with a friend; cleaning their room; showing up for after school clubs; spending time baking or knitting.

What comes up for you? What have you been wanting or needing to get done that feels like a struggle? 

7 Ways to Get Stuff Done When It Feels Hard

  1. Build a system of support and accountability. Identify the people and spaces that will help you get your stuff done! Sometimes simply having a person to text “I am doing it!” and “I DID it!” helps. Other times, we might need someone to be in the room with us (IRL or virtual). In some instances, we need someone to help us work through a challenge. Build and/or document your support system in a visual way here. Then, with each hard task, you can consider who or what would help you tackle the hard stuff.
  2. Ask for help. This is reflected in tip #1, but this is such a key part of being human, that I think it deserves even more space. Perhaps there are parts of the process you can ask a loved one for specific help with. Other times it might mean hiring someone who can help. Let’s normalize asking for help AND supporting one another in doing the hard stuff– keeping in mind that what’s hard for me, may be easy for you and vice versa. We need one another!
  3. Add a fun element. Brainstorm what you could bring into the task that would give you even just a tiny bit of joy or fun. This could be a playlist to get you through, working at a coffee shop you love, wearing an outfit or accessory that gives you energy, or including favorite snacks in your work time. 
  4. Care for your sensory needs. Tend to your needs as best as you are able. Use your essential oils, bring your fidgets, wear comfy clothing, buy your favorite candy, use ear plugs, and so on. Prioritize your sensory needs, even if they make things just 5% more comfortable. It matters! You matter!
  5. Remind yourself that “it’s temporary.” The discomfort of a task is temporary in most cases. Most tasks have a point at which you are done, finished, complete, etc. If it feels helpful, remind yourself that the struggle is only temporary, do it! 
  6. Tap into the greater purpose/meaning. Accessing a bigger reason for why a task is important or relevant can support you in moving forward. For example: “The college essay writing is boring, AND I am pretty pumped to get to college.” “Cleaning my room sucks, AND a clean space helps me feel more at ease.” “Showing up for after school clubs is hard because I am tired after class, AND going to your GSA club is affirming and funf for me.” Note: Using “and” can be helpful in acknowledging the challenge AND the purpose. Because it’s all valid!
  7. Plan a celebration/acknowledgement/reward. Acknowledging ourselves is an important part of the process. You might like to pause and give yourself credit or rewards at different points in the task completion process, especially if it’s a multi-step process or if you benefit from breaking things into parts. Celebrations can include texting a friend to celebrate checking the hard item off the list, picking up a delicious treat or meal, adding a sticker to your calendar, posting on social media, taking a break, and so on. How do you like to celebrate and reward yourself for doing the hard stuff? Share in the comments if you feel called!

Here with You

I’m doing this work of being human right alongside you. The ideas I share in this blog are things that have worked for me in the past and/or I’ve observed clients benefit from. YOU are the expert in your life, so, as always, I invite you to take what works, leave the rest, and edit these ideas to fit your unique circumstances and needs.

If you’re a teen or young adult who wants support along your journey, reach out, I’m here to be a witness. If you’re a parent of a young person who is looking to make some shifts, I’m here to support. Reach out anytime! 

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