I don’t know about you, but this happens to me quite often. As a writer myself and as the owner of a small press, I often have a lot on my plate (especially in and around submission season!). I’m kind of in that place right now, so I thought I could offer some advice based on how I handle that feeling of distress that comes on when the work begins to pile up.
First, make a to do list.
This may sound cliche, but it works. The first step to overcoming that overwhelmed feeling is to write out absolutely everything that needs to be done. I tend to separate this out into long term project goals and immediate tasks, but even just the act of writing everything down and seeing how long or short that list actually ends up being helps. It puts things into perspective and makes each item on your list feel like a tangible problem you can solve as opposed to leaving it as a nebulous feeling looming over you.
Prioritze your list.
Decide which items on your list are the most urgent. You can number them, or just put little stars next to the ones with due dates coming up soon. Those will be the ones you need to focus on first and the others can wait until those ones are finished or until their due dates get closer. Of course, if you have any that are past due, you’ll want to start there, but figuring that out is what this part of the process is all about.
Break larger tasks into smaller ones.
Ok, see those urgent tasks? Do any of them seem overwhelming in and of themselves? Try breaking it down into the steps you need to take to complete it and then order or prioritze those the same way you have with the other items. Sometimes the individual tasks are just ones that are more complex or will take longer. Try scheduling those ones for when you will have a block of time to be able to tackle it and work on getting the little ones out of the way first to clear some mental energy for the larger ones.
Start knocking items off your list, one by one.
Individually each task or step isn’t as daunting as trying to tackle the whole list and I guarantee you that once you start to complete some of these tasks and cross them off your list you will start feeling more productive and more confident that you will get caught up. And that’s all it takes, really.
Do you struggle with this? Are you a work-a-holic like me? What techniques do you use to cope? Leave me a comment and let me know, I’m always happy to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!