Overwhelmed? I Get It.

deadlineCiao, SEers. I should be continuing myย “plot” series, but that has to wait until my next post.

Why?

I’m swamped. Totally overwhelmed.

It’s not just me, is it? I don’t think so. I talk to a lot of writers, my colleagues included. It seems we all bite off more than we can chew.

Funny thing (for me) is, I’m a planner. An organizer. I pay close attention to every excruciating detail of my life. If I can’t control it to the Nth degree, I go nuts.

Yet here I am, writing this after the post should have already posted, because I lost track of my post date. I shouldn’t have; it’s right there on the schedule. But I had an unplanned (yet welcome) family visitor over the weekend, and on Sunday, I was exhausted. I forgot to look at the calendar before the weekend started and after my visitor left. And now I’m late. And I’m mortified.

This has been happening more and more often. What am I supposed to do? What’s a writer to do?

We don’t (at least, I don’t) want to pass by opportunities, but there are only so many hours in the day.

My suggestions (ones I know I’ll never take):

  • Be realistic and blunt with yourself.
  • Look at your calendar, see what you can fit in, and politely decline the other options.
  • Ask for extensions when necessary.
  • Seek assistance from colleagues and friends.
  • Build a buffer into your schedule so you don’t find yourself scrambling the weeks/days/hours before something is due.

I took a new job this year. It’s a fantastic opportunity. But I’ve noticed I’m now stretched pretty thin. It’s a good position to be in, but not when I start missing things.

Now, with the extra preparation I need to make for the EU’s new regulations (see Joan’s post regarding the GDPR rules), I find myself researching, reading, and writing things I didn’t budget time to do. (See the bullet above regarding buffers.)

Stuff comes up. Life happens. My daughter just came home from college, throwing a wrench into our schedule. (Not that I would have it any other way. She was supposed to be out of state this summer, but that job fell through. I’m sorry for her, but thrilled she came home.) I had a family visit I hadn’t planned for. Allergies are kicking my… butt, making thinking a chore. (My head is constantly pounding.)

So, in addition to the suggestions above, I’ll put it to you:

What do you do to stay on target, hit your goals, and not go crazy?

I know this isn’t a Friday question post, but I’d love to know what everyone else is doing, especially in the summer (when everyone wants to vacation, or at least get outside and have fun).

I’ll be back to my scheduled series next time, but this time? Let’s discuss management strategies. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Staci Troilo

56 thoughts on “Overwhelmed? I Get It.

  1. I am 100% with you on this. In fact, I am just now getting to read this post even though you posted it weeks ago. The end of May and beginning of June are always my “forgive me” months because school is ending and my schedule is chaotic. I tend to leave emails and posts until after the dust has settled (school has ended). Now, I play catch-up. But I do catch up. I hate slacking on my commitments, and I always keep my word, so I find a way. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Iโ€™m always behind. I started a new job myself. It did put a kink in my schedule, but hey, what fun would my life be without something not going according to plan. Iโ€™m fortunate, I just flow with it, but I do get mad that I get off kilter.

    Iโ€™d take a visit from family over work any day. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we tend to appreciate family visits more when they can’t/don’t happen often. At least we have phones and emails and all other manners of electronics to keep in touch. Grandma wasn’t nearly as lucky when she was young.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

  4. I have one hour of free time every morning. That’s when I get on blogs, write my comments and meet fellow writers like I’m doing now. All of us are pressed for time. In a perfect world I’d have an organizer telling me what to do. Can I somehow create one?

    Now the refrigerator is on the blink and I have a doctors appointment. Come on life, stop getting in the way!!!!

    In the end it’s best to say we did something that helped to achieve our goal no matter how small those steps are.

    Good stuff. Thanks!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I lost an hour and a half yesterday to dealing with my daughter’s car repairs. Life… it does have a way of interfering sometimes, doesn’t it?

      I love your take on it, though. “We did something that helped to achieve our goal no matter how small those steps are.” Thanks for sharing that.

      Wishing you a productive day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m definitely not the person to give advice on this topic – like Mae says, I feel like I’ve just been treading water for weeks. With kids home, things fall to the wayside a bit, then when they’re gone for a while, I work my ….butt off to try and catch up. I make lists in my planner of things to take care of (if I ever lose the planner, I’ll have to throw in the towel and crawl away, tail between my legs), but always feel like I’ve dropped the ball somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t cope well at all if I don’t have stuff sorted ahead of time, lols. So I try to have posts, etc., ready weeks before they’re due. If it gets to within two weeks, my brain goes into panic mode. But sometimes, we just can’t do it all. And, as you say, life loves throwing us curve balls that we just didn’t see coming! When that happens, we have no choice but to go with the flow (or lack of flow). Most folks will understand if we’re a bit late, and it never hurts to show we’re human! It’s only a problem when not getting it done becomes a habit. When that happens, we need to take a serious look at everything we have going on. And in the middle of all that is some compassion for ourselves. Thanks for a great post, Staci! And for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the reminder that no one is a machine. I sure hope this doesn’t become a pattern, but you’re right—once in a while isn’t a disaster. It never hurts to learn to go with what life throws at you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I understand completely, Staci. I also work full time and my work is very deadline driven. For the past year it has been frantic with one deadline after another. The only way I got any writing done was to get up at 5am over weekends and write them. During the week I get up at 5am to blog for about an hour and I fit in another hour in the evening. Planning is the only way but things do go pear shaped sometimes. Good idea to build in a buffer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The hours we keep to get it all done is crazy, isn’t it? Your schedule sounds exhausting. Honestly, I didn’t think I could be busier than when I worked fulltime and had young children, but either I’m older and slower now, or I’m busier now. (Or my memory is on the fritz, which is also possible.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Hoping your work schedule settles soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I totally relate, Staci. It is getting harder and harder to keep up and maybe it’s just me, but the merry-go-round is going faster and faster. I stay behind most of the time, but all I know to do is keep going and do the best I can with the time I have. There is no easy one answer for anyone. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I have to admit, I was hesitant to write this post. I didn’t want people to think I was complaining. But the outpouring of support has been wonderful, as has the commiseration. I guess we’re all feeling it. I think Harmony is right—as long as it doesn’t become a habit, we need to cut ourselves some slack. Wishing all of us a slower merry-go-round!

      Like

  9. Lately for me, being able to complete writing as quickly as possible has been the goal. I can only accomplish it with dictation. I have to dictate everything that I can and it saves me time enough to handle other tasks. I’m like you, though, this GDPR thing is a grind in my gears.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Can I ever feel your pain, Staci. The year started with a resolution not to take on more than I can handle. In my usual fashion, that resolution was history before the month was finished. Tips??? Write stuff down where you see it every day. Calendar, notebook, forehead it doesn’t matter. Everyday look is the key and the only way to feel in control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forehead is probably my best bet, but it’s not nearly big enough!

      I actually have all this stuff on my calendar, but when I forgot to check the calendar (because of the family visit), everything fell apart. What are the odds that the one time I don’t check, I have a bunch of stuff due?

      I remember a time when I could keep track of everything in my head. Fulltime job, two young children, family and friend “dates”, oodles more. Now I forget my name if I don’t see it written somewhere. (I always answer to “Mom” though. Even when the kid isn’t mine!) Ah, the good old days.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Definitely work in that ‘buffer’ time for the unexpected things that pop up. I’m a planner too, but right now I’m not sticking to it like I should. Cut yourself some slack and go at it better this week but have that buffer ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Stephanie. The sad thing is, I HAD a buffer. Where did it go? Sigh.

      You make a great point, though. Just because I lost it last week doesn’t mean I can’t get it back. Onward and upward. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. A dozen more cliches that mean the same thing. (I guess those comments became so trite because they were words of wisdom often repeated and hopefully followed.) I’m not good at cutting myself slack, but I will try to.

      Wishing you a bigger buffer, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel like I am constantly treading water, but I think that goes with the territory of being a writer and having a writer’s life. I remember reading an article by NY Times best-selling author, John Sanford, sometime ago. He said he walked around looking like a zombie in the early days of his career, because—like the rest of us–he was juggling too many things and trying to break into a full-time writing gig while holding down another job.. Let’s face it–writing IS a full-time job. Whatever you’re trying to balance that with (another job, children, family), it demands an excessive amount of time. For me it’s the life I’ve chosen, so I have to accept all the hurdles that go with it.

    I do, however, go offline every weekend, and that is a huge help for decompressing. Sometimes my blog doesn’t see a post in weeks, because I’m devoting time to writing. One thing I am seriously considering doing is ditching some social media, especially Facebook. And it’s a BIG help to know other writers struggle with the same balancing act, deadline, and hurdles. We’re all in this together! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    • Writing IS a fulltime job, and knowing others struggle too is a balm. Of sorts. It makes me feel bad for all of us. But you’re right; we chose this. I shouldn’t complain about it. But if anyone has any tips for keeping my head above water, I’d love to hear them.

      I’m cutting back on social media, too. I have a few other things to consider, too—one is to stop my personal blog, but that’s my best chance of capturing newsletter signups. However, with the new GDPR rules, I don’t even know if I want to bother with that. Lots to consider…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Blogging is the one thing I don’t want to give up, even if I’m lax at posting from time to time. Of course, you’ve got other blogs you share on, so it might not be as crucial for you. And with GDPR I wonder if it isn’t being over hyped and we’re all panicking a little too much. Remember Y2K and what a bust that was? Mail Chimp has made it easy to update subscriber lists, but there is another frame of thought that says it isn’t necessary. I wish the powers-that-be would at least agree on how to handle existing subscribers. sigh

        Liked by 2 people

      • I feel like I’ve let my personal blog go. Last year, I was growing my readership because I was posting little stories every day. Well, most days. Now, because of how late WP is to post the prompt, I’ve had to let that go. And my readership has fallen off. I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth it.

        GDPR may be a hype. But what if it isn’t? I can’t afford a massive lawsuit because of a stupid mistake. But if Amazon is any indication, I seem to be the one targeted. (They are still deleting reviews I write and receive. How can I make inroads when they’re blocking little old me? It’s not like I’m James Freaking Patterson and can afford to lose reviews here and there.)

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m responding here in hopes of catching you both. You know that my personal blog is the center of everything I do. It auto-feeds to a plethora of social media sites, so there is always a bit of action there. The idea is like “All roads lead to Rome.” I find it easier to put a bunch of attention into my blog and let the other bits slide for a while. There could be better ways, but this works for me.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think that’s a great way to approach it. I wish I had done so sooner. But I didn’t, and I don’t have nearly the following you do. This GDPR-thing is making me crazy, and that’s before even considering platform-building. I wish I had a magic button to press and deal with all this.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You know how I feel about blogs. You have enough other places you blog that you might not need your own, but I would think long and hard before making that step. I’m in a safer position than many, because I don’t have a newsletter. I’m probably missing out on some sales because of it, but now that it comes with liability… I’m never starting one either.

        Liked by 3 people

      • The newsletter is the thing giving me the least stress. There are all kinds of cookie issues and data collection and storage and deletion stuff that is on the web. I don’t understand those mechanics, and it’s making me crazy.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I’m with Craig in letting everything auto-feed from my blog for some activity on various platforms. I also will never give up my blog. Like him, it’s the hub of my marketing and has the greatest reach. It’s where I interact with friends and get to share in an environment that isn’t as viral as Facebook. Staci, I also think your blog is doing well with many people dropping by to comment. It would be a shame to abandon it now.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My blog auto-feeds, too. Always has. I just don’t feel like I’m reaching the world through it. Or by any other means. And some of that is me being… me. If I talk about my work, I feel pushy. If I don’t, I stress that I’m not “marketing” my work. The vicious cycle in my head is ridiculous. I’m sure I won’t give it up. At least, not soon. But I’d love to see a positive change happen there. Or anywhere else in my career!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve learned to put the brakes on when I have to. I had so much going on in May that I put my own project aside. That helped me catch the other parts up. I won’t be able to return to my story until June, but I can’t do everything all at once. I focused on my interviews, then I focused on my book release. After we get back from Las Vegas, I can focus on my story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A trip sounds delightful. But I just came back from one, and I’m still not caught up. I thought I’d have this long weekend, but I booked three editing projects. And marketing, especially around release dates, takes a lot of time.

      Wishing you a strong release and a lovely trip. You’ll have time for all the rest afterward.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, reading. A past time I used to love. I struggle to find the time lately. I’m usually reading in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. It’s hard to retain information at 3:00 a.m., though. And it’s definitely not enjoyable like it should be. I have visions of me sitting on my chaise beside my pool, Kindle in hand. But all it does lately is rain, both my chaises need to be repaired, and I don’t have time to read when I should be writing.

        But it’s the dream!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m the last one to give advice on management strategies. I’m way behind on writing and almost everything else this year (and I declared that 2018 would be better in that regard than 2017 was). Famous last words. Suffice to say I won’t make any declarations about 2019.

    Summer is upon us and my husband’s work schedule has changed. He’ll be home in the evenings which cuts into my writing time. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re planning a short trip next month and to quote Steve Miller, “Time is slipping into the future…”

    I’ve found that I’ve needed more downtime this year as things have been overwhelming at my day job. But life goes on and this too shall pass.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Been there and . . . Actually, I’m probably still in the overwhelmed state. I try to give myself wiggle room to prepare for the unexpected, but I tend to get savaged more than I realize. Especially when it gets near the end of the school year because I feel the ticking of time. Just another month before I have to focus on almost entirely on parenthood, which makes every day a little anxious. Obviously, I don’t handle it as well as I should. The toughest part is trying to maintain a schedule around people who don’t understand how being an author works. That belief that an author can simply stop and go whenever they want seems to be a driving factor for many of the human distractions. Headphones occasionally work for that even if you’re not listening to anything.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Headphones are a great idea. I’m not sure my kids would care, though. You’re right; people think a writer can just drop everything at the drop of a hat. They don’t get it.

      Wishing you a productive summer, Charles.

      Like

      • Iโ€™ll admit the headphones are a 50/50 shot. I still have the adults here talking to me while I work if they arenโ€™t looking at me. The kid seems to take it as a sign to ask if he can interrupt.

        Hope you make progress this summer too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • At least he’s asking if he can interrupt rather than just interrupting. That kind of made me chuckle.

        I’m considering posting a huge sign (like, poster board sized) that says “Unless you’re bleeding, dying, or something’s on fire, leave me alone.” I have a feeling that would just spark a flurry of comments, though.

        Liked by 1 person

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