Starting Out on a New Project Can Be Overwhelming
When I first landed a publishing contract, life was exciting! Some days I would wake up in bed thinking – Hey, it’s real! I will be an author!
Then the reality set in. My publisher wanted a quick turn around and in truth so did I.
The trouble was that with a full-time job, a busy personal life, writing a book was an extra! A big extra. I often felt overwhelmed by the the job I had committed to do.
In the last weeks before I finally handed in what I thought was a great product, I was exhausted and worried whether what I wrote was good enough. Working with it everyday made me too close. At the very end, I literally went into what my friend called perfectionism overdrive one night.
Will My Work be Good Enough?
The only thing keeping me away from turning the fear of the book not being good enough into inaction and/or procrastination was my respect for deadlines, high quality product and my word that I would get the manuscript to my editor on time. An editor, actually two editors (Jonathan and Jenny) that have been absolutely amazing!
My Recipe for Completing Work
So here’s my recipe for completing work. These steps helped me stay focused on the task and get the writing done. I share this with you as I think it can be used for completion of many tasks especially the final bits that seem to take ages and when many of us can lose steam.
A Daily Schedule
Having a schedule that works for your is a great way to stay productive.
Some things took longer. Others were an unexpected but pleasant breeze. There were days when the schedule seemed to slip, and then moments of absolute breakthroughs. So my advice is be realistic and flexible. And when in doubt chunk down.
Completing work means keeping the job manageable in your head and in your heart. Divide what seems massive into small and manageable chunks. For me this meant book sections and then individual exercises.
Weed and Rework Weak Content
Be ruthless! Highlighting the stuff that I felt was weaker than the rest and really taking the time to rework it! With a couple of exercises that literally meant a pack of PostIt notes and a whole Saturday afternoon.
One after another, I read and reread each bit to make sure that the quality of each was on par with others. There would be no fillers in my book.
Take a Break when you Need One
You can’t be productive and complete a project if you’re mentally and physically exhausted. Taking regular short breaks kept me sane! Especially fresh air, walk to the local super market, quick coffee shop visit and short comedy programmes on Radio 4.
Breathe and slow down. Surprisingly you will get more done that way.
It’s not for everyone, but I had bucket loads. I made a thermos of it at 7pm and drank three cups until 2am. Strangely, at night coffee really does keep me up!
But Also, Sleep!
Yes rest is actually good.
Following a good rest, I got into the habit of early morning rereads of the work I did the night before. With a few hours of rest, reading my work anew and feeling good about what I wrote helped me acknowledge my own progress was real.
Colleagues, Friends and Lots of Feedback
Not everyone can be as lucky to have a fantastic writing editor like Jenny! I was also fortunate to have Jonathan on the team. Jonathan had tremendous excitement for the idea from the start.
There is nothing like another person helping you draw out the essence of what you want to say with less words. This person might be an editor, a colleague, or a good friend.
Friends were indispensable to remind me to regain a balanced perspective, turn blockages into productive edit sessions, and generally motivate me when the end seemed far in sight.
While the book was being written, I freely shared exercises and chapters with my coachees and colleagues to get their honest opinion.
I am extremely fortunate to have friends who are very honest and will tell you what works and what doesn’t. Their positive feedback really helped to keep my motivation up and trust in what I was creating.
A Visual Progress Map
I am lucky to have a massive wall radiator in my kitchen, where I often work. It loves magnets and the feeling is mutual :)- I put up a picture of books I snapped in a local bookshop to remind me of the final goal – my first book being amongst them.
I also wrote up a giant to-do list of all the outstanding tasks connected with the book and ticked them off as I completed each one. Seeing this list get smaller was a massive motivator.
A Completion Deadline
This is a real motivator for me. I had a firm deadline I wasn’t prepared to break.
What’s Your Recipe for Completing Work?
“Only write from your own passion, your own truth. That’s the only thing you really know about, and anything else leads you away from the pulse.”Marianne Williamson
If you are writing or completing another project, I wish you lots of success! And if you have tips you care to add to this list that others can use, please do so via the comments list or get in touch.
Find Out More About My Productivity Methods
The experience of writing my first book led me to dive into productivity and how we are our own worst enemies when we want to get a job done. Here are some tools you may find useful if you have a big project, life event, are feeling overwhelmed, or are worried about burnout.
- Get Productive is the book I was writing at the time.
- The Grid is a productivity and wellbeing tool to help you balance all areas of your work and life.
- Grid Life Satisfaction survey will help you pinpoint areas for immediate improvement.
- Grid retreat can help you take concrete action towards completing work.
- Grid-based 30-day goal-setting course in collaborations with Psychologies Magazine has been a bestselling practical course designed to make fast improvement across life, work, career and personal well-being since 2017.
Thanks for reading, and stay productive!