You can find a ton — a ton — of information online about how to combat procrastination… and about how to plan and stay organized and live a balanced life.
It’s good information to have.
But if you’re behind on your work and trying to catch up — or if you’ve put more on your plate than you know what to do with — well, ideas on how to not procrastinate are too little too late under those circumstances.
What you need in that situation is a plan for getting caught up. Preferably one that doesn’t forget that you need to sleep.
I’m not proud when I admit that I’ve been in this situation a fair number of times in the course of my freelance writing career.
But it does mean that I have a pretty good system for getting caught up without killing myself.
Now, my system hopes that you recognize you’re falling behind well enough in advance of your deadlines that you don’t have to pull all-nighters or be late on delivering your work.
So, here’s the scenario. You’re halfway through your timeline for a big project, but somehow you’ve only scratched the surface of what you need to get done. You’re starting to feel a little panicked.
You also have a number of smaller commitments to other clients that you need to get done between now and your big project deadline, too.
So what do you do? What’s your strategy for getting caught up?
Step 1: Assess what’s essential and what can wait.
You may have a full to-do list, but usually you can find a few things on there that you can shift around to be completed at a later time. Anything that can wait until after your big deadline, shift it to that space on your calendar.
Step 2: Get really honest about the time things will take.
Assign each task still on your to-do list the amount of time you believe it will take to complete. Be very honest with yourself here. If, under the very best of circumstances, a task will take you 30 minutes to finish, write down 45 minutes or an hour… because you can’t count on the best of circumstances.
Step 3: Add it all up.
This step is easy… add up the time you’ve estimated for all the tasks you need to complete between where you are now and the deadline for your big project.
Step 4: Find those hours.
Finally, go to your calendar and start blocking the hours you’ll need to get things done. This is essential for gettign caught up. Everything is on the table here. Evenings. Weekends. Appointments and meetings that can be safely rescheduled.
Find all the hours you need to get your work done. As you do, respect your need to take short breaks, to eat, to move, and to get as much sleep as you need each night. You might have to trim some of those things. For example, you might decide to have dinner delivered instead of cooking… but you still gotta eat!
Step 5: Communicate the impact.
Let everyone in your household, plus any of your friends and family you touch base with regularly, know what you’re up against and your plan for getting caught up. Ask for their support, and their understanding if you’re slow to respond to texts or unavailable for a time.
Once all that’s all in place, show up for the work blocks you’ve scheduled. Stay focused on getting the next task done. And before you know it, you’ll be back on top of your schedule… and able to enjoy your free time again, without worrying about everything you need to get done.
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!