How do you get anything done when life is chaotic? Whether it’s a dropped nap or a global pandemic, instability can put a real damper on your productivity. In this post, I share 5 tips for keeping yourself in motion when situational difficulties make things hard.
1. Minimize Your Obligations
Cut as much out as you can. You could get off a committee, have your 10-year-old make dinner, or have someone else do the carpool. If you have enough writing samples, stop writing new ones for a while. Remove what is non-essential for your life or business.
I got off social media recently. I have to check my email, but I can take social media off my plate for a bit.
Another facet of this is to reduce your expenses. If you can lower some overhead, even temporarily, you don’t have to make as much to cover things and this can take some of the pressure off. Cancel subscriptions or renegotiate contracts. It doesn’t have to be forever, just enough time to give you some breathing room.
2. Protect Your Uninterrupted Time
Get ferocious about protecting any uninterrupted time that you have. If you have a new baby or are suddenly homeschooling your kids, your available time is drastically reduced. You will have to carve out and protect a bit of focus time fiercely.
You need this time for strategy, writing, researching, brainstorming, or whatever quiet space that your mind needs to produce.
If you can only have this time while the kids are napping, or very early in the morning, or late at night, make sure it happens. Don’t use this precious time for other things. No folding laundry or paying bills.
3. Create Your Own Certainty
What does “create your own certainty” mean? It means that even when things are crazy in your environment, you intentionally put in place some guideposts to help you get through the chaos. Most recently for me, that was by using a loose schedule.
My chaos was a newborn, a toddler who doesn’t sleep through the night, trying to run a business from home, and taking care of my four kids at the same time since my nanny couldn’t work for me due to the pandemic. Panic, much?
Setting up mealtimes for us was my anchor. Breakfast at 9 am, lunch at noon, and then dinner at 5 pm. That way I could aim to have the kids in their beds about 7:15 pm. Of course, the newborn moved the markers a bit, but at least I had times to aim for, so that people didn’t end up at 2 pm without a real meal or brushed hair. Which could totally happen.
4. Be Okay With Giving Things Less Than 100%
This tip is almost a challenge. If you’re a mom, like me, you probably deal with the “good mom” guilt trap if you give less than 100% to your kids. Don’t spend enough time with your kids or have a spotless house? You’re not a “good mom.”
Writers face this as well. We writers are a special breed with how deeply we feel imposter syndrome. Any hint of imperfection in our work or dissatisfaction expressed about it can be devastating for us.
But our regular capacity vs our chaos capacity doesn’t make us a failure. We are just limited for a time.
Picture yourself being able to normally carry 6 water bottles around comfortably. Suddenly you are handed 5 more. Your choice is to try and carry all 11, and probably drop a few, or let go of some of your original bottles to take on the extra ones.
You are a normal human being with normal human capacity and you don’t have to hang your head in shame because of it. This is especially important if you want to have any staying power as a freelancer or entrepreneur. Get comfortable with it.
5. Don’t Isolate Yourself
Finally, during times of chaos, be sure and ask for help. Don’t disappear or isolate yourself. I’m the Queen of Isolators, and I have to work against this natural tendency, because it doesn’t help me.
It’s easier to carry whatever burden you are carrying when you share it with someone else. (Share some water bottles!)
If you’re in my free Facebook group, you could post that you’re feeling down because you got a rejection letter and it stinks but you still have to keep pitching. By just sharing that, you’re letting off some negative steam, and most likely, others who have been in the same place will connect with you and encourage you.
When you get out of your own head and realize that many others face the same struggles and feel stupid as well, you won’t feel so bad. Getting virtual high-fives, hugs, and cookies can be a lifeline.
Make Hard Stuff Easier
When it comes to freelance writing in particular, one of the best things you can do is give yourself a little bit of hand-holding. And if you’re new to freelance writing… that’s exactly what Clips Camp does.
Clips Camp is a three-week course for new and advanced new freelance writers who want to get started with high-paid client work. If you’re on Upwork or Fiverr and miserable, if you haven’t even done anything to get started and you don’t know what the first step is, then Clips Camp is for you.
I teach you how to put together a solid portfolio of writing samples that position you as the kind of awesome writer that awesome clients want to hire. If you want in on that or you just want more information, go to clipscamp.com, and I will see you on the inside!