I have to admit, I am not the world’s most organized person. (This is a shocking truth for people that know me!) I write lists and make spreadsheets all the time. And I *try* to follow them, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. And that’s when everything goes to hell.
I’m sure you all know how that works – groceries don’t get bought, laundry doesn’t get done, the house is a mess, and worst of all, I don’t get any writing done! (And this week, even better, I kept putting stuff in the absolutely wrong places – a box of tea in the fridge. Shampoo in the glass cupboard. Laundry detergent in the bathroom. My brain was not on right, that’s for sure.)
And then comes the guilt. All those little voices in your head that question your ability to be an adult. That suggest you’re not good enough. And especially the one that sounds like Mom, complaining about how disgusting your house is. I love that one.
I tend to be hard on myself, so when I miss a writing session, or have a trashed house, I get mad at myself, and then I get stressed and can’t concentrate, so I *still* don’t get anything done! You can see where this might be a vicious cycle.
So what’s a person to do when life gets crazy and you still need to get stuff done?
1. Take a deep breath
Jumping right in and flying around trying to get everything taken care of doesn’t always work (I should know – most of the time I just make a bigger mess!). Sometimes you need to step back and prioritize. Make a plan. Figure out what needs to be tackled first. What is the one thing that you *need* to get done today? What will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Some days it could be as simple as wiping down the sink. Other days you need to do that full chapter revision, vacuum the house, and get the laundry done all at the same time. Taking that extra few minutes to think about your game plan can help save you time in the long run.
2. Make a List
Yeah, I know, I don’t always follow them, and I’m way too fond of drafting them as a way of procrastination (see below), but having a list organizes your thoughts and prioritizes tasks that need to be done and in what order. It can help control the panic and give you a game plan to tackle all the things you have to do.
3. Don’t put it off
Sounds contradictory with what I said above, right? Ah the joys of being human 😉 . When I get overwhelmed, I shut down and give up. So if there are a dozen things I need to tackle, and it seems like it’s just too much, I won’t do any of it. I’ll go find a good book and curl up somewhere so I can’t see the mess, some where my laptop can’t taunt me for not writing. And then everything is still there when I finish and I feel even worse than before. There are times where you just have to tackle it. Dig in and get it done, you’ll feel better. It’s amazing how much less stressed I feel when I cross off some of those tasks from my list! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of polishing off a chapter, or having a clean bathroom.
4. Have Fun
Really, Jamie? You pulled that one out? Why, yes, yes I did. Because it’s true. A little fun makes even the worst task seem OK. Throw on some music, tie a scarf in your hair, make a contest out of it. I don’t care what you do, but if you try to make the best of your huge list of tasks by doing something fun or quirky, it’s amazing how much faster it goes. When I’m dreading getting my words done for the day, my crit partner and I do word racing to see who can get the most done in a limited time. When I’m staring at the dust bunnies that are big enough to attack my cats, I pull on my fun, fuzzy cleaning socks (they just make me smile) the Other Half and I pop on iTunes, and we dance around to get things done. (We do have to put the dog out side for this – he tends to attack the vacuum cleaner 🙂 )
5. Cut yourself some slack
Really. It’s OK if you can’t do it all. None of us can. Some times you just need to realize that for the most part, no one is going to die if you forget to do the dishes for one more day (unless there’s a strange growth that is threatening to take over the house), that no one but you is going to care if your dust bunnies are the size of a cat. Some times it’s OK to let things slide – it doesn’t all have to get done right now.