Ever feel like you’ve got way too much to do and not nearly enough time or energy to get it all done? That’s what I call freelance writing overwhelm. It’s an unpleasant sense that I’m never going to get any time to just be.
And, in my case, it’s usually not only about the writing I need or want to do. Other things in life start to pile up and if I’m not paying attention I’m soon in overwhelm.
For example, my current to do list includes:
Adding a specific code to my ebook sales pages – which turns out to be way more complicated than I thought and there’s a hard deadline.
I need a cocktail or dressy dress for an upcoming conference and haven’t a clue what I want or where to get it.
I have yet another draft of proposal for a client that didn’t give me complete information to start, and I didn’t realize I needed. As a result, I’m way behind.
Two more blog posts for a regular client – wish I’d done them earlier in the month, but I didn’t.
My house needs a cleaning, really from top to bottom, and I better get some laundry in today or I’ll be out of clothes to wear by tomorrow or so it seems. And these are just what I think of as the biggies. (Off to start laundry right now… okay, laundry started.)
Freelance writing overwhelm? Start with a list
The first step is to take a deep breath and recognize you’re in overwhelm.
When I realized how I was feeling I also realized I had the makings of this article.
Next, make a list of at least the major things you need to get done. Which is what I’ve done with my list here. Emphasize, as I have, those that seem to be creating the most pressure right now.
Prioritizing isn’t always about what’s absolutely the most important. I started the laundry while writing this article because I know the washer and dryer here often get busy later in the day. By interrupting myself and starting the wash, I’ve not only been able to get it started, I can quit worrying about other people getting there first.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can pick and choose and bring some order to my list. You can do the same thing. Just number them in the order of importance, 1, 2, 3 etc. Or, if you prefer, A, B, C. Any ordering scheme will work as long as you understand it.
The real secret is chunking down your projects
One of the reasons freelance writing overwhelm occurs is we tend to think in the big picture rather than seeing the smaller, more doable steps to get there. For example, I’ve actually chunked down the adding of the code chore into smaller bites (bytes? These darn computers!) I had some questions about the process and it’s clear now. The next step is in the doing and I plan to spend either tomorrow or Saturday morning doing the doing. By getting my questions answered, the project doesn’t seem so big – a couple of hours when I’m fresh should do it.
The two blog posts for a client are simple and I already know the topic. I suspect they will take me no more than 30 minutes each. One today and one tomorrow and I’m ahead of the deadline.
Although I didn’t totally understand the proposal, I also realized that I’d written the first third already. And this client responded with the example I need for the next third. I have the information for the final third and I’m remembering that this is a draft. There will be, probably, some edits which can be done next week. Whew!
House cleaning – if I dust and vacuum the living room today I’ll feel like I’m making progress. The kitchen and bathroom floors can be done Saturday. The rest Sunday. See, I have a plan. I don’t have to clean the whole house in one fell swoop.
Right before your eyes I’ve gone from panic to a plan. I know from experience that it’s a pretty good plan and very likely to work.
Oh, about that cocktail dress… well, I don’t know. I’ll check a couple of websites and see if I can at least figure out the kind of thing I’m looking for. That will help. I also have a friend I will be seeing later today and can ask her for advice… both ideas reduce my sense of overwhelm – an example of chunking down into baby steps.
How do you solve your freelance writing overwhelm? Let us know in comments, assuming, of course, you have the time.
Write well and often,
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