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Thread: I get overwhelmed easily. Do you?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin CocoWriter's Avatar
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    I get overwhelmed easily. Do you?

    I've been freelance writing for the web for about four years and I always have had this same problem. It's intensified in the past year. Other freelancers have always told me to have lots of irons in the fire when you're freelancing, and never to depend on just one source. Well I do have lots of irons in the fire, but just the thought of completing everything I have to complete overwhelms me. Even if I try to do one thing at a time, just the thought of doing even one thing reminds me of them all. So I often get paralyzed and fall behind. Even though I try to stay organized with spreadsheets and to-do lists. I always feel like I have an avalanche of things to do. Does this happen with anyone else? How do you handle it?
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  2. #2
    I fight like a dairy farmer Corussa's Avatar
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    I sympathise!

    I have various methods, and I chop and change depending on what feels like it's helping.

    In the last week or so, my method has been to write a list of 10 or so tasks that I need to get done today, major and minor. I don't think about all the other stuff that I'll have to do (after I've established that everything else can wait a day).

    Then I work my way through the list. I include minor (sometimes non-work) tasks to balance things out. For example, I'll list things that will take me hours, and things that will take me only a few minutes. This makes the list seem more manageable.

    This is in addition to my standard workload document, which includes:
    a) what projects are active, hours remaining and deadlines;
    b) what projects are coming up (again including hours and deadlines); and
    c) a basic calendar noting what hours I'll be spending on what projects each day over the next few weeks.

    That - in particular the calendar, which shows me what I should be expecting in the weeks to come - makes me feel more secure that I won't fall behind with anything.

    Also, when I have a lot of projects on, sometimes I do a bit of work on several each day (e.g. 2 hours each on 4 projects, rather than 8 hours on 1). That reassures me that nothing is going to fall desperately behind.

    Lastly, and maybe most importantly, remember that you can say no. I'm still having to remind myself of that a lot! It's great to have a diverse client list, but it's all right to turn something down if you've already got more than enough on your plate. Particularly if you are well established with them, as they are more likely to come back with another project (I just try not to say no twice in a row to a client).

    Hope that helps!

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin CocoWriter's Avatar
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    Yeah that does help. Thanks. The "pick ten things" idea sounds like it would be helpful. I think my problem is just remembering that this is manageable and sticking to my game plan. I will definitely try out some of your suggestions.
    Oh, and saying no to clients...how did you know that I am desperately bad at this? lol. I should have said no a couple times in the past two weeks but I didn't. *smh* Advice worth following for sure.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW jeffo's Avatar
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    I do the list thing, too. Sometimes when the list gets long, I find many ways to do anything else so as to not tackle the giant list. But focusing on one item at a time helps.

    As for the saying "no" -- one option to consider, if you're have a very hard time doing it, is to say "yes," but provide your own timeline. In other words, say, "Sure, I can do that, but I won't have it to you until the end of next month." That way you can avoid saying "no," and if the client can wait, you've got something lined up further out!
    Of course, the above is just my opinion -- and likely worth exactly what you paid for it...

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  5. #5
    Getting better all the time AW Moderator Melina's Avatar
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    This happens to me a lot! I haven't been able to find a system that works for me, but I'm currently reading "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. So far, his system seems like something I could do--and maintain.
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  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin CocoWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffo View Post
    I do the list thing, too. Sometimes when the list gets long, I find many ways to do anything else so as to not tackle the giant list. But focusing on one item at a time helps.

    As for the saying "no" -- one option to consider, if you're have a very hard time doing it, is to say "yes," but provide your own timeline. In other words, say, "Sure, I can do that, but I won't have it to you until the end of next month." That way you can avoid saying "no," and if the client can wait, you've got something lined up further out!
    Yeah that is actually a good idea. Thanks!

    Melina, I'm glad the book is helping you...there are so many time management books out there now. It can be hard to pick just one.
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  7. #7
    Getting better all the time AW Moderator Melina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CocoWriter View Post
    Melina, I'm glad the book is helping you...there are so many time management books out there now. It can be hard to pick just one.
    I decided on that one, because I've seen it recommended by other writers I admire and trust. Linda Formicelli and Michael Hyatt are two notables whose opinions prompted me to check it out for myself.
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