Jacquelynne Steves

Something’s Gotta Give… Part I

jacquelynnesteves.com broken_clockThis post has been a bit (well, actually, a lot) like therapy for me. I have written and re-written it about 5 or 6 times- it has become something of a journaling exercise. That’s not what I intended- I just sat down to write a blog post almost a week ago. But as I wrote, some thoughts and questions that have been going through my mind over the last several months really began to become clear and solidify for me… and I kept changing it, evolving the post with my shifting thought process. I think it’s going to end up being a 2 part-er (maybe 3??).

Here is where I will begin…..

We are almost a week into the New Year- How are things going? Are you still raring to go, or are you starting to peter out already?? For me, it is a mixed bag. I am ready to go, excited about a lot of new ideas and products I’d like to launch this year, design work that’s been floating around in my mind for the last few years…. There is never a shortage of ideas and inspiration, just always, always, always a shortage of time. So along with the excitement I feel, I also feel that overwhelming pressure that I put on myself- just because there is sooooooo much that I WANT to do. So many things that I am interested in. So many things that I could throw my heart and soul and creative energy into. But there is that thing…. Time. I know, rationally in my head,  that I don’t HAVE to do EVERYTHING right NOW… but my heart wants to. My heart has such a deep desire to see all of my creative ideas come to fruition.

In the past, some lack of organization has slowed me down a bit.  This is how I tend to operate:

I have an idea. This gives me another idea. And then another. I start a list. Just a little list. Things I need/want to get done today/this week/ this month/this year.  Soon this list grows and grows and becomes longer than any human being could possible tackle. And then I try to choose something to work on. Oh there are so many choices…. Which one to pick? How do I let go of the others (even if it’s just for today, or even just for this hour).   I can’t choose, how can I choose? Can I choose a favorite child? I don’t know which to work on, I don’t know what to do…… And overwhelm and anxiety take over and then……


I just shut down. Because my mind cannot handle the barrage of possibilities and ideas on my list, because I can’t bear to choose just one thing to do right now, I do nothing. I have allowed myself to become paralyzed by an overabundance of choices (I know. File under: First World Problems.)


So, I determined to get organized and make a schedule. I spent the last week of December cleaning my office and getting organized. A HUGE collection of ideas, notes, etc. which were all on post-it notes, covering every possible surface of my office, were corralled and transferred to my Evernote account (which I opened LAST January but never actually used.) Boy, it felt really good to take those post-it notes, type out all of the scribbles & information, and then one by one throw them away. Phew. Clean desk, clear mind, right? Right.

Then I got out my BIG calendar and tried scheduling things out. Yes, if the tasks/projects/self-imposed deadlines are on my calendar, they will get done! The pages became filled with ideas for my e-magazine, blog posts, book proposals, fabric lines, and other assorted creative & work pursuits. The pages are filled. Too full. No room for ideas or projects or opportunities which may come along later.

Looking at those bursting calendar pages, I have decided…. It’s time for me to get really honest with myself.

Something’s gotta give, folks.

This goes beyond organization. I love being organized- it really helps me to keep my mind clear and to focus.  But I think my bigger issue may be PRIORITIES.

I just can’t do everything. I can’t. I want to, I really do. But, much to my dismay, I am going to have to let some stuff go. I am trying to figure out what those things will be.

I’ll post Part II of this post in a few days.

In the meantime- how do you deal with overwhelm? How do you prioritize when you WANT to do EVERYTHING? How do you shut your brain off at night so you can actually sleep????

I need some tips, please! Any and all ideas would be welcomed!





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    Posted January 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I am in the same boat. I can never pick one thing to work on and stick with it until it’s done. And if I get into a project and it doesn’t seem to be moving as fast as I think it should I want to quit and get on with some other ideas that have been rolling around in my head. It makes for an endless list of WIP’s and another list of things I want to do. When you find what works please let me know.

  • Jacquelynne
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I will let you know Michelle- if I EVER figure out what I’m doing ha ha.
    I tend to chose smaller projects now, so that I can get them done. I am more honest with myself- before I start something I ask myself if I love it enough to finish it? If not, it may become just a “play project”- something that I work on just for fun and to learn a new technique without pressuring myself to finish it. I do have 2 projects right now that I am trying to finish up that I’ve been working on for a few year! One is very close to the finish line, and one is about 1/3 of the way. I just do a little bit when I think of it, and I’m hoping that someday they’ll be all done.

  • Jennifer
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Oh Jacquelynne – how to prioritize things is a huge challenge. And in today’s world, it seems that we have more and more things “thrown” at us that we get to deal with in the middle of the things that we “want” to do.

    I think maybe one key is to try and focus (notice I said “try”) on what you are currently working on, and not to get distracted by the other things you have in your mind. And if you don’t get everything done that you “want” to – don’t beat yourself up, just do what you can and realize that you are doing your best. God has forgiven us for a lot, and sometimes we need to learn to forgive ourselves (as well as others).

    I look forward to your next post on this topic….it is a challenge!!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      That is something that I’ve really been trying to do, Jennifer- really focus on getting something done before I move onto the next thing. Or set a goal for how much of it I want to get done for that day, and then once I accomplish that, I let myself move onto something else.

  • Judy
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I have the too much I want to do and not enough time syndrome too. I just like to do too many different things and then find one more thing I would like to try. I sit here looking at the great ideas you bloggers put forth and add it to my project file, then another, then another and when I actually want to make one of them I cannot decide which one!!

    While I have not thought it through as carefully as you have, I have started a small list of things I want to actually make….now. Right now there are 4 on my list and I am trying to stay focused on completing those. But now I need to add that Bag a Month project too, but I am not going to sign up until I get my first project done. So that’s my idea for this year, 4 projects to do and only add one to the active list when I get one done.

    And I have decided to focus on one (well maybe 2) things I like to do. This year it will quilting projects (small ones, not actual quilts) and kumihimo jewelry. The oil painting will wait until next year, along with a few other things I enjoy playing with.

    I am hoping that keeping my list manageable and short that I will avoid being lost in that sea of projects that swim in my head.

    Add to that I am moving from a condo with little space for hobbies to a home with more room than a lady of my age needs, but I will have a space for me and my stuff and that is so exciting, so my mind is on organizing that space so it actually works for me.

    So, I guess I am listening to my inner voice this year. How it works….who knows, but I am committed to trying!

    With fingers crossed, wishing good luck to both of us!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Oh Judy, we do need room for our “Stuff”!! I agree that it is really important to get your space organized. I have found that I really do my best work when there is a minimum of clutter (i.e. distraction) in my work space.

  • Sharon
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    The best advice I got for this is “Find what you love and do it so you’ll never work a day in your life.” So drop anything you just don’t like first. There that lightens the load, right?

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      That’s what I’m trying to do- figure out which things in that “don’t like” category can be delegated or dropped all together. It’s tough!

  • Posted January 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I work best with deadlines… even self imposed ones. So I decide that I want something done by Friday, I work on it, and other things; but in the back of my mind is my deadline. I have gotten so bogged down that I couldn’t decide what to work on too. Then told myself, pick one thing, just one and see what you can do… it helps me reign in my mind too. Good luck!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      I do too, Sandie. I think maybe my self-imposed deadlines are a little too ambitious- things almost always take longer than I think they will!

  • Posted January 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    you have a very common problem – esp. among the rather elite of us who have active and creative minds. Organization will only go so far…
    when I was younger, I was so well organized – everything labeled and in its place (even the places were labeled) – but as I age…I find it more difficult every year to maintain that organization. For the past two years my ‘word of the year’ has been FOCUS – I focus on whatever absolutely HAS to be done next – whatever the next ‘deadline’ is, that’s what I work on… but along with that I keep a handwork project that is somewhat mindless and easy to do for at least an hour each evening before bedtime. it helps to calm my mind and it signals to my brain to turn off the gears. I do notice a tendency to be restless if I don’t make time for the handwork.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I think focus is a discipline that I am working on. Organization is a good start, but then I really have to discipline myself to focus on just one or two things at a time. Thanks for your comment, Thea!

  • Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    If you only knew that what is going on in your brain is exactly like what is going on in my brain. In fact I went to bed over an hour ago, and here I am back up on the computer. Too many things going around in my head, I couldn’t sleep. I have another added problem; we lost our home and my business on the 7th of December, and I am trying to establish a temporary home, while trying to decide how to build a new home, betting a never ending list of inventory together for the insurance man. I decided today that he will probably end up thinking I am a nutcase or a hoarder before it is all done. When he sees my extensive supply of art supplies I had and my fabric stash, and all the tools etc there……I can only hope his wife is also a artist/stitcher/quilter, or he is going to go home and tell her the story of me. I am also trying to pull supplies and stuff to work with , plus there is the redoing of several of my drawings that I used in my products. It doesn’t work to back up your files on CD’s and then store them in the same desk as your computer. So I am thinking of new ways to store things to be fire safe. Oh my! But, I sure could identify with you. I have way too many interests and can’t do them all. Just know you are not alone in your dilemma, and I can’t even offer any solutions other than to ask the good Lord for help in the way of Him leading you through it.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Oh Carol, it sounds like you are going through a very stressful time. How awful to lose everything. I hope that you get everything sorted out quickly and that you can settle down soon. I’m sure the lists of things to be done must be overwhelming.
      Lists are essential for me. Once I write something down, I can release it from my mind and release that burden (the task still needs to get done, but I don’t have to worry about forgetting it.) I keep pencil and paper next to my bed so I can make lists when I wake up in the night and then when I’ve emptied my mind I can try to get back to sleep.
      I’m praying that you find peace soon.

    • Suzanne
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      I hope you will receive the insurance you are due. If you need to prove that you had lots of “stuff”, try and remember if there are any pictures that you took and posted or if any family or friends took pictures and may have them. Hopefully that will allow the insurance agent to believe you. I was told that one day a year we should take our camera and walk through our house and photograph everything, eg, bookshelves, closets, storage areas, kitchen cupboards storage bins,and garage by our insurance agent. She said it helps prove that you have what you are claiming.Hope 2014 is a better year for you.

      • Jacquelynne
        Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        Good tips for all of us with “stuff”, Suzanne! Thank you.

  • Sandra
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Hang in there and be thankful! I work full time out side the home and are actively involved in church so I have little time to be creative. I envy those that do :-). Follow Carol’s advice “ask the good Lord for help in the way of Him leading you through it.” then add the advice of the others – they have all given excellent suggestions. You can do it!!!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the encouragement, Sandra :)

  • Karencg
    Posted January 12, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    If I took out all of my “to do” lists broken down by catagory I would pass out.

    What I do is have folders.
    Quilts I want to make folder go in my sewing room.
    Baking and cooking things I want to make, go in a folder in my kitchen.
    House projects folder go in my sewing room (karens office, sewing room, think tank)

    When I am in the mood to bake I go to that folder.
    When I am in a sewing mood I go to my Quilting, stitchery, sewing folders and so on.

    Most things for me are not mood driven, most things are started out of need. I belong to a quilt guild and small quilt group. We are very active.
    I have a calander that fits into my purse. I live by that calendar. My meetings, its do by dates, and so on. When I see blocks of time that are open I book something depending on my mood, interest, available time, etc.
    This way of booking time has worked well for me.

    Good luck and try to avoid undue stress, your live will be filled with so much more smiles.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      It sounds like you have a good system that works for you. I also live by my calendar- if it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done!

  • Posted January 21, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I couldn´t help but smile as I read your post! It could´ve been written by me! I retired after 31 years teaching in public schools. Went two years past “my time” because I loved what I did (still do!). Like you, my problem is there are sooooo many things I love to do and I want to learn new things….
    The timeliness of your post for me couldn´t be better. As I was coming downstairs with a folder with work that has a deadline of Jan. 31, I was telling myself “I need to make a schedule so all the things I have to do, and what I want to do, get done”. That includes a baby´s sweater I´m knitting downstairs after dinner, and a baby´s dress I´m crocheting upstairs before bedtime!!! But how fun!! Grateful for the health and energy to do these things!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Carmen- What a great attitude. Rather than allowing myself to get so overwhelmed with what I think I SHOULD do, I am going to try to be more grateful for what I CAN do!!! Thanks!

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