*Eye drops necessary*
Ahhh deadlines. Aren’t they just FAB. Through my experience; first being an intern, then working in beauty PR for a short period before I left to work on my blog full-time, I’ve had my fair amount of deadlines. Even now I post on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday on my blog at 9am and try my damnedest to make sure they’re live and ready to go at the promised time. There are little mini deadlines littered through all our jobs, in whatever we do. However, working in this social media world a lot of my deadlines are really short and use the time period of a month at most; it’s fast-paced and follows more of the ‘little and often’ rule.
When it came to writing a book – that rule didn’t really fly. It was more ‘a lot and over a really long time period’, not as catchy, eh? I had eight months to write my first draft and that was a deadline that I had just never really worked to before. I started off well, hitting the ground running and clocking in a decent amount of words in January and February, but then I went though the whole of May writing not a single word as I struggled to juggle book writing with blog posts, videos, newsletters, brand work, podcast recordings, travel, family, sleep – you get the gist. Of course the pressure ramped up as the end of August rolled around – OH HELLO DEADLINE! – and through a non-recommended concoction of delayed deadlines elsewhere, taking time off the blog, waking up at 5am each morning and basically shirking all other responsibilities I had, I somehow made it. I wouldn’t say that I made the deadline in the most dignified of ways, but I got there. You have a deadline too that you’re not quite sure how to manage? Here’s my advice so you don’t have to become reliant on the life-changing power of eye drops like I did…
If your deadline is way, way in the future… Set up frequent reminders. Ahhhhh this is a nice position to be in. Say you have eight months to complete a project – or maybe even a year? That is so much time that it’s hard to get your head around the best way to dish it out over the coming months so that it doesn’t end up being a mad rush at the end (because let’s face it, that’s what happens 95% of the time right?). Let’s try and avoid the last minute panic by working out how best to divvy the work out evenly. I had eight months to write my book and if I was to do it all over again, I would have split the work out in a very different way to what I actually did. Although I do work better when there’s a rocket up my arse and it’s close to a deadline, it was have been a much less stressful experience for both myself and those around me if I’d paid more attention to my deadline throughout the whole time period. To do this – set yourself a monthly goal to reach. So for a writing assignment for example, take the full amount that you expect to write, divide by how many months you have left till your deadline and set yourself the task of hitting that number each month. So for me that was 80,000 words divided by eight months, equals 10,000 words a month. Use that number to guide your weekly plans and to-do lists and set frequent reminders to keep you on track.
If your deadline is REALLY soon… It’s time to prioritise. OK, so your heart is pounding and after collating your deadline to-do list with the rest of your responsibilities in the given timeframe you’re starting to think that perhaps it’s best just to hide under a rock until the date passes. Oh mate I feel you – I was there just a month ago. When the going gets tough, it’s time to prioritise. There are only so many waking hours in the day and when you factor in just how many of those can truly be productive until you start to fatigue and understandably start to produce sub-par work until you have a moment to rest and kick-start your energy levels again, you have to be realistic about what you can actually fit in without reaching burnout. So look at what tasks can be sidelined until a later date – there are always a few that can be pushed back with some apology emails and negotiation. Of course it’s not an ideal situation, but you live and you learn, eh? For me when push came to shove and I was looking seriously low on the amount of hours that I needed to finish off my book edits, I pushed back my newsletter send-out date to the following week and stripped back on the number of blog posts for a two-week period until the deadline was over and I could get back on my usual routine. With some re-jigging of my calendar and daily tasks, I managed it without making myself completely exhausted – just a tickle of the ol’ throat you know?
If you’re struggling to get motivated… Come up with a concrete plan. In a way this situation is the worst. You know you’ve got to get moving to complete your deadline, but you just can’t muster up the enthusiasm and motivation to get yourself up and DO IT? Ultimately this ends with procrastination which is a Class A cling-on that’s hard to shake. Right now my favourite black hole is the ‘Tours of Super Small Apartments’ genre on YouTube. So clever! So small! A ladder to the bedroom!? I’d definitely break a bone if that were me. So before you begin typing that into your search bar make yourself a concrete plan that’s realistic given the time constraints and is clear and concise so you know exactly what you have to do and when. If your deadline is within the next month, then try and make yourself a daily plan – so you can chip away at it easily. Maybe it’s writing a slide every day, or editing 50 photos, or doing the research for one section? Make it something that you know you can fit around other things that you have to do. If your deadline is longer than that, then break things up weekly and set yourself a set of tasks to complete each week. Pin the plan up somewhere where it’s difficult to ignore it and begin to action it ASAP.
Photos by Emma Croman
*Sign up to my monthly newsletter, ‘An Edited Life’ here*