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I once saw a performer in a Cirque du Soleil show who juggled seven balls at once. He wasn’t able to do it for too long before he started tossing balls out from the moving circle. I have never been able to juggle. Sometimes, I’m challenged to toss one ball back and forth between my hands.
I can juggle projects, though. I have gotten very good at doing it over the years. It’s not surprising since I have to deal with writing projects from around eight writing clients each month, and I’m often doing multiple projects for each one. That means I have weekly, monthly, and bimonthly deadlines that I need to meet. Some of the projects are long-term and others are rush jobs. Plus, this doesn’t include my own writing projects.
I usually work on each project for a little bit each day. I might do interviews for one article, the rough draft for another, transcribing notes for a third, a partial draft on another, and a final draft on a fifth project.
It keeps me busy, and all of the projects move forward. It works for me because I don’t feel overwhelmed by how much writing I have to do on a project. I can see forward movement on the project so I don’t feel anxiety as the deadline approaches.
I also like that I can usually see potential problems coming far in advance of the deadline. Maybe I need to do more interviews or research. Maybe I need to completely rewrite an article. By doing a little bit each day, I can see the problem coming rather than having to scramble when I’m doing a lot of writing only a few days out from my deadline.
However, just like the juggler couldn’t maintain seven balls in the air for a long period, juggling multiple projects can wear me down after a while. When I start to feel that way, I also have to back off. This usually seems to be a time when I have an unusually high number of projects that I’m trying to keep moving.
I do this by focusing on one or two projects each day and trying to finish them or at least make major progress toward finishing them. These are usually projects that have looming deadlines or a project that doesn’t require a lot of research and preparation. Finishing a project is like removing a ball from the juggler’s moving circle.
Some of the advantages that I’ve found with this method as I talk with other writers are:
- I don’t get bored because I’m working on different things.
- I can avoid writer’s block. If I get blocked on a project, I just jump to a new project.
- The projects get daily attention so I don’t go cold on a particular project.
This is something that works for me. Maybe it will help you get more out of your day if you try it. Good luck.
Here are some other posts that you might like:
Working as a freelance writer can be like trying to herd cats, as the saying goes. In this case, the cats are the projects and other jobs you have to do because you do it all as a freelancer. Right now, I’ve got 8 articles I’m working, 2 more that I need to do some planning for, a manuscript I’m formatting, a manuscript I’m editing and a manuscript that I’m writing. This also doesn’t include the forum posts, invoicing, queries and job estimates that I need to do. Instead of freelance writer, the job should be freelance writer-editor-designer-marketer-CPA-purchaser-CEO.
Most days, I find myself working my way through my to-do list doing a little bit of everything. This keeps all my project up-to-date, but it takes longer to get them finished. This means my to-do list gets longer as more things go on the list than come off of it.
My solution to this came about more from instinct than any great insight on my part. As a deadline draws near, I focus more on that project and at some point, I’ll drop a lot of other work for the day and just finish a project that is probably 75 percent done.
I feel such a nice sense of relief to be able to cross it off my to-do list, which in actuality is really no shorter. But it feels like it is because it’s one less project I’ve got bouncing around in my head trying to get my attention.