Learning to balance

The past few weeks have been really chaotic, work-wise.  I actually haven't had that much work (I'm mostly finishing up old stuff), and so I'm scrambling to get stories placed so I can hopefully pay the bills.  Tonight, I got slammed both with a need to send out new ideas and finishing up a story from before.  When I figured out what my workload was going to be, I pretty much panicked.

How was I going to get all of this done?

I realized I was going to have to move some of my trawling for story ideas to tomorrow--deadlines always win out over no deadlines.  But I was behind anyway and frustrated, and then I had to contend with trying to schedule and then transcribe several last-minute interviews.  I was simply overwhelmed.

Photo by Summations
Once I got my interviews actually scheduled, I calmed down a bit and started talking to myself calmly and slowly--kind of like you would do to an angry dog. A slobbering, growling, barking, extremely angry dog.  I know how to do this. It will take some time, but I can get it done. Relax and breathe. Breathe again.

I made a plan to get everything done in time, but what was interesting about this plan was that I penciled in some TV time as well.  I'm burned out and exhausted, my metabolism is in overdrive, and I've pretty much had it.  Flat out, send-me-to-Bora-Bora-in-the-cargo-hold, had it.  I couldn't sit and work all night again.  I just...couldn't.  I needed a break.

So I watched TV for an hour and did some crochet.  Then I went back to work.

I still have more to finish tomorrow morning, but that was part of my plan.  I feel okay now.  Still frustrated and disappointed at how hard it is writing-wise right now, but I put on my Big Girl Panties and did what needed to be done.  That "me" time was essential.  I wouldn't have made it through the rest of the evening without that little break.  But I did it.

I guess the moral of the story is that I can balance work and play, and that I can calm down and assess the situation like a professional.

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PJ said...

don't forget 'dinner' on that schedule...
(oh and "big girl panties"??- PMSL!)

hm said...

Yayyyy for tv, crochet, and YOU time!!! That rocks. Great job. :)

My mom taught me an awesome trick when I was little. If you're overwhelmed, anxious, anything, set a time limit- and tell yourself, "I'll be ok until ___" Pick a time at which you have something nice planned or by which you know the urgency of the situation will most likely be over. For example, if your husband is supposed to be home by 11 and its 11:30 and you're freaking out, tell yourself you'll be fine till 1. Or if your workload is super heavy and you're losing your mind, tell yourself you'll be fine till 4:00 or till next Tuesday at 3:00, or whatever. But give your head a time and/or date in the future to focus on, and tell yourself you'll be fine until then- I don't know why it works or if I was just an impressionable kid, but that technique has worked wonders for me and still does.

As for me, I'll be fine until June first. ;)

Katie said...

"Flat out, send-me-to-Bora-Bora-in-the-cargo-hold, had it."

I know I'm not meant to be laughing, but I am ;) you have such a way with words Carrie! Well, obviously this is the case otherwise you wouldn't be a writer, but there's a difference between being a good science writer and being funny too, I'm sure.

Anyway, good for you for putting some relaxation time in there too. I used to be awful at that - I would work flat out to deadlines, finish before I needed to, work some more anyway, then collapse in a broken down heap for weeks/months afterwards. Now I'm a bit better at pacing myself! It's such a useful skills :)

Sarah at Journeying With Him said...

I loved this post because it reveals a little more about your life and the life of a writer. I also LOVE your decision to schedule in "you" time. It undoubtedly makes you a better professional and better-rounded person. I honestly should take a cue from you and begin to do this myself...most weeks I get ahead of myself and don't do this. "Me" time still happens, but I'm a wreck thinking "will it happen or am I going to be go-go-go all week?" I like the concept of scheduling it in.

Also, I love hm's trick...I'll have to try it!

Great post! By the way, just curious--what do you like to watch on TV?

Angela said...

I hope it is times like this when you can see how far you have come. I'm sure that planning some T.V. time would have seemed like a far fetched plan not all that long ago! Good for you!

Cheryl said...

Wow! What a great post and reminder to do for ourselves what we suggest for others!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

@hm, I love your comment. I forgot that I used to do that to stall my freak outs. When I had to work overnights and felt overwhelmed, I would tell myself that no matter what happened in the ER that night, 8am would arrive and I could go home.

I suppose I could use the same logic to postpone binging by setting a time and telling myself that no matter how I feel right now, snack, or the next meal will come and the urge will pass. Yes, I will make certain that I've eaten properly so this will work.

Thank you all, I'm so excited to try this out!


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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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