Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Writer, Writer Pants on Fire! by Kerri Nelson

(Kerri will be our chat guest Sunday, February 6)

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, you probably have an infinite number of deadlines in your daily life. Everything from paying bills to turning in our edits on time, we all have times when we feel the crunch of a looming deadline.

There are times when I feel like…well…my pants are on fire. I feel the heat on my back as I run away from the fire and hopefully towards the cool, refreshing cleansed palate of a job well done.

But how can we cope with these crunch times? What can we do to make the fire burn less aggressively and make success more easily achievable?

Here are my tips for putting out the fire and putting another check mark in your completed column.

1. Make lists and stick to them.

Sometimes we make lists and then we make lists about the lists we need to make. But do we stick with these daily “to do” lists or do we allow our minds to wander? If you take the time out of your schedule to make a list—stick to it and promise yourself that you’ll complete at least 50% of it that day.

2. Reward yourself for a job well done.

If you meet your daily goals you should definitely take a much-needed break and reward yourself. But don’t take advantage of the reward system. Just doing one thing on your list doesn’t entitle you to 2 hours in front of the television. Be realistic and be fair to yourself.

3. Ask for help if you need it.

How many of us are afraid to ask for help? Maybe we feel that we’ll seem less capable if we tell others that we just can’t do it all. Maybe we all want to be “Wonder Woman” and show the world that we can go it alone. But if you get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might be surprised how many of your friends, co-workers, or family can help you out in a pinch.

4. Be realistic.

Let’s face it…sometimes my “to do” list looks more like a semester long syllabus than a daily list of doable tasks. I’m aware of this and yet I continue to stack goals on myself more and more each day. You should always rank your tasks in order of importance and try to get the most urgent or overdue done first. Do you really need to clean out the pantry today or do you need to submit that novel that you’ve been lost in edits with for months? Set priorities but be realistic!

5. Take a Mental Health Day.

Sometimes we feel ready to break apart at the seams. If you get totally down and out and the fire is raging under you, maybe it is time to take a mental health day. Take a day off from work or chores or writing and spoil yourself with an outdoor walk, a special outing with the family, or even a long luxurious bath without interruption. These breaks can be all you’ll need to meet your goals in the coming days. But, again, don’t take advantage of breaks and use them as excuses. You’ve got to get back to work eventually.

Use these tips for coping with the stress of deadlines and you’re sure to succeed and it will be a whole lot easier than replacing your wardrobe from all those scorch marks.

What are your tips for dealing with deadlines and daily time crunches in your life?

I look forward to meeting you all here on Sunday night. Hope you’ll check out my website in the meantime here: www.kerrinelson.com

© Kerri Nelson 2011