As an antidote to creeping overwhelm, recently I went through my to-do pile. I selected what seemed like a short list of projects to work on for the coming 3 weeks and ditched the rest. Everything eliminated went off my desk, into a drawer, and out of my mind. When occasionally I thought of one of those activities, I reminded myself it wasn’t on my current agenda.

Since then I’ve had room in my schedule to be creative according to my own energy flow rather than be taunted by a looming list of “shoulds.” And amazing things have happened. I completed my few projects and many more. My community saw growth unusual for such a short period. I booked $35,000 in the past week alone. And all of it happened with joy and ease.

Reflecting on these dramatic and unexpected successes, I heard myself jokingly say I’d lowered the bar enough that I could trip over it.  And then I realized that was the key for my future. At first I resisted the notion of decreasing my expectations of myself long term. After all, I wouldn’t want to tell my children, “Hey kids, from now on, instead of shooting for the moon, just shoot for that mailbox.”

But I’m an adult who historically had such high expectations for my productive output that I was in my own way. I was overly attached to my to do items, assessing my self-worth by the length of my list (I was “better” when my list was shorter). Unwittingly I set up a system where by the time I completed my original commitments I’d already added so many more that I couldn’t consider myself worthy of praise or celebration. Not a recipe for sustainable joy or ease.

All along I was a master prioritizer, always good at figuring out what belonged at the top of my stack. The difference a few weeks ago was that I actually removed the bottom of the stack.

By lowering my expected output, I released attachment to most of my projects, unconsciously releasing the energy that was bound up with my incomplete work. That made room for possibilities I previously hadn’t even imagined to come to fruition. Rather than trip over that lowered bar, I climbed upon it and reached new heights.

Have an idea for how to decrease overwhelm and increase productivity by shifting your mindset? Please share!