Having high standards can be a great thing for your creativity.

It ensures that you’ll never just settle for “good enough”, that you always push for the best result possible. It means you aim to improve and develop your writing (or other creative medium) as much as you possibly can, whenever you possibly can. Striving to find ways to take your work to bigger and better heights is one of those impulses needed to make progress when it comes to creative endeavours: if you’re always happy to just settle for the average, you’re only going to plateau.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t come without downsides, however, particularly when you combine it with mental issues.

High standards can often lead to overthinking your work, over-analysing and critiquing every detail to the point that you find yourself questioning the very worth of it. I’ve been doing it since the start of this post, and with the other two posts I’ve started writing over the last two weeks before giving up as a bad job. People who suffer from anxiety and depressive disorders often find themselves worrying over things people in a more healthy state of mind would simply brush aside, and this is particularly true in this case.

High standards have value, but they can result in you building up problems with a piece of work to insurmountable levels if you aren’t careful with them. The old ‘mountains out of molehills’ conundrum.

I’ve been coming up against this issue quite frequently over the last few weeks as I’ve tried to hammer out more content, which is what has ultimately led to the post you’re reading now: the thinking was “if you’re struggling with this problem, it’s probably something worth writing about”. Below I’ve tried to outline a couple ideas and methods that I’ve used to prevent myself from building issues up too much in my head in order to ensure I don’t get lost amidst them all.

DECONSTRUCTING MOUNTAINS

You need these in your life. Get them in your life. (Source: Pixabay)

I’m fairly certain I’ve enthused about my love of checklists on this blog a fair bit by this point. Probably to the point of exhaustion for some people.

That’s too bad, because I’m going to do it some more.

Issues and setbacks commonly develop from molehills to mountains because they’re allowed to run amok and unchecked, going by my experience. Without some means of keeping track of them they can grow, slowly but inexorably, into massive issues within your head that seem thoroughly unsolvable. At this point, it can seem like the only solution is to scrap the whole idea.

Enter the checklist.

Checklists allow you to break a problem down into smaller, more processable bites that your mind will have a much easier time focusing on and solving. Instead of tackling the entire piece of work at once, a checklist allows you to target specific areas. To give an example, let’s say you’re trying to write a story. You could go for the approach where you take the whole thing on from start to finish, writing it out chronologically as it comes to you. Or you could break the stories down into sections, tasking yourself with preparing plans for each of them and then drafting these sections and combining them all together.

The second approach might seem like it’s creating more work for you, but in the long run it’s actually helping to prevent a number of the common issues that arise and swell into much larger problems. By breaking this writing project down into a checklist to be completed in stages, you’re far less likely to be overwhelmed by the work required. Each time you finish a stage you also get a small morale boost as you progress further towards your goal, something that is vital for seeing a project through to it’s completion.

Checklists are a way to break down the mountains you might have built up in your head, allowing you to see them for the molehills they really are.

 

If you’re interested in reading a bit more about checklists/to-do lists and how they can benefit your work and life, there’s a couple books worth checking out. ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen is a classic example of how checklists can be used to “capture” your mental processes and free your mind up for more intensive tasks. There’s also ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande which, though I haven’t read myself (yet, it’s on the ol’ Amazon list), comes highly recommended.