Do you ever feel like you’ve got so much to do that you’re forever catching up with yourself?

I do.  It’s got to the stage where my whiteboard of stuff to do (yes, I have a whiteboard with stuff to do installed on a wall so it’s the first thing I see when I come home from work) looks like this:

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My super cool whiteboard.

Actually, it has looked like this for months – but it wasn’t actually until I took a photo that I realised how crap it was.

When I wrote those purple words, I thought it was the aggressive mantra I needed to get my shit together.  I figured it would inspire me to finish some of the half baked blog posts, stories and manuscripts in my collection; to stop making excuses for why I hadn’t finished anything (re-adjusting to working full time, catching up with folk over Christmas, sitting down to write without feeling guilty is really hard) and get on with it.

The idea of being stern with myself wasn’t a bad one, but looking back at that wording – finish something – is a heady mixture of vague, high pressure, and kind of desperate.

Finish what?  One of the 12 books in 12 months? Or one of the two manuscripts I’ve been working on since then?  What about blog posts?  Zine submissions? Putting together the trailer for Homespun that I promised to do for the end of February?  And what was the timescale, anyway?  Should I finish this mysterious something this week? This month? In time for summer? Before my eventual death?

Essentially, the call to finish something created more problems than it solved.  It wasn’t helping me to finish anything, it was helping me to ignore the whiteboard (albeit with feelings of guilt).  But it wasn’t until I took a photo of it for a joky post about how rubbish I’ve been at making time to write lately that I realised exactly what I needed to do.  Are you ready for this?

Break it down. Yes, I know, hardly a revelation.  But when you feel overwhelmed by stuff, there’s no better way to approach it.  I decided to answer the questions created by my demand that I ‘finish something.’

I have updated my whiteboard accordingly:

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Pick things to finish and a timescale to finish them in.

Obviously you don’t have to use the whiteboard method.  You could use a to do list, phone reminders, or other ways of breaking up what you want to do and protecting the time you need to do them.  In fact, have you got any hints or tips on how to deal with the pressure of finishing a creative project?  Stick them in the comments!

I’m going to put a tick on my whiteboard…

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