Attack the overwhelming task
What task seems overwhelming to you right now? Spend a little bit of time writing about what the task is, and why it feels so overwhelming.
e.g. For me, it was comprehensive exams. Oftentimes, I got lost in too much of the literature. It felt like I was chipping away at an iceberg with a fork, and getting nowhere. There were high stakes involved, some of the literature I could barely understand, and I felt entirely uncomfortable feeling so lost on a daily basis.
Break the task down into manageable steps by creating boundary lines. Make a list of the small steps you need to do in order to finish the task.
A lion cannot eat a zebra in one gulp – that would be too much, and this is why any task seen in its entirety can be very overwhelming! Instead, be like the lion, and take bites. Each bite is a little task. Chew, swallow, REPEAT.
e.g. For me, my comprehensive exam consisted of several smaller main tasks: (1) read the literature, (2) summarize the literature, (3) find overall themes in the literature, (4) write about the themes I found. Then, after listing these smaller steps, I can break it down even further, and then set goals that I can do each day.
Task 1: Read the literature: (1) find one paper regarding my topic, (2) read the paper, (3) write out the main ideas/quotes/summary of the paper.
A goal: Read X amount of papers today.
Task 2: Summarize the literature: (1) read the paper, write out the summary, (2) put the summary on a separate sheet, and make it searchable with tags and key words
A goal: Write summaries for X amount of papers today
Task 3: Find overall themes in the literature: (1) code the summaries you’ve written, (2) make a codebook for each code, and what they mean
A goal: Code X amount of summaries today, and add the new codes to your codebook
Write your daily goal, based on your smaller tasks. You must climb the mountain step by step. To avoid getting overwhelmed, sometimes, it helps to concentrate on simply putting one foot forward in front of the next. Step-by-step. Concentrate on taking steps.