Tag Archives: scheduling

Clutching at Socks

So, it’s the first day back to normality after a long Bank Holiday weekend, and I feel like my brain has turned to dust. I guess that’s normal. Isn’t it?

It’s a funny thing. When I’m really busy, and I have a hugely full schedule, and I have so many things to do that I’d actually need to clone myself to get to it all, I start to go into a catatonic state. I’m not sure if it happens to other people, but I know it happens to me. It’s sort of like a computer overloading when you give it too many tasks to perform all at once, I suppose.

Image: windows.fyicenter.com

Image: windows.fyicenter.com

I remember once ‘coming to’, sitting on the side of my bed, one sock on and one sock off, having frozen mid-thought for an unspecified length of time, on the morning of one of the busiest days I’ve ever had. It was in the midst of my PhD studies, and I was also helping to organise a major international conference, and teaching, and writing papers, and planning my own presentation at said conference (in front of several major big-wigs in the field), and I guess it all got too much for me. Putting on two socks in quick succession was the one tiny task that made my brain decide ‘Yep. Enough is enough. I’m going to my happy place now, for a little while.’ It was a very strange moment though, to snap back to reality with a sock in your hand, not quite sure what you were going to do with it.

I feel a little bit like that this morning – overwhelmed with deadlines, things to remember, entries to competitions that I simply cannot forget, planning for the future, and lots of other things. I feel a brain freeze may be imminent, and so I’m trying to distract myself in order to stave it off. I can’t exactly avoid putting socks on, in case that simple action tips my brain over into the abyss again, so I’ll have to be clever about it.

Something that might help me to divert my own attention is the fact that I now have a printer that works once again. Huzzah! I never realised how useful a gadget a printer is until I didn’t have one. I’ve been happily looking forward to printing my current short story project and getting at it with my editor’s pen ever since yesterday evening. Nothing can really compare with printing a piece and seeing how it fits on the page, and whether it flows properly, and how its sections look in black and white. I finished this particular story last week, and it’s definitely one of the weirder pieces I’ve ever written (and I say this in full knowledge of the fact that I’ve published a story about cannibalism – so you can perhaps gauge what I’m talking about.) I like the story, but I’m not sure about it. It’s amazing how printing something out can make or break it; I wonder sometimes if printing a piece fools you into thinking it’s a proper book, and you can slot it into a different critical space in your brain, one that you reserve for formulating thoughts about other people’s work, and not your own. Certainly, seeing something of mine on paper allows me to look at it with a completely new perspective.

I guess this is the only way to avoid the dreaded brain-freeze, then – focus on one small task at a time, break it down into do-able chunks, get it off your schedule, and move on to the next small task. If you look at everything all at once, it’s no wonder your brain decides to vamoose.

Image: casartcoverings.com

Image: casartcoverings.com

So, that’s just what I’ll do. I’ll get this story out of my head, and then move on to the next thing, and after that the next, and after that, the next, and so on for the rest of my life. I’ll never be finished, of course, but I hope I won’t be popping back to consciousness clutching a random sock in my panicky fist ever again, either.

Happy Tuesday! May your day be both panic- and sock-free, and I hope your brain is at full power.

Life/Time Management

Another new week is beginning, and the sun is shining here. It looks (fingers crossed) like it’ll be a lovely day. The weekend was more or less restful – I was attacked by an idea on Saturday lunchtime, which is currently languishing in scribbles on the back of an envelope, and my husband and I had a Serious Discussion about the opening chapters of ‘Eldritch’ yesterday. So, I almost had a break from the words that like to linger in the corners of my mind.

Not, of course, that I’d like them to give me a complete break. That would be like the bereft, cold feeling of having the blankets pulled off you in the middle of the night. It’s just – sometimes – I wish there was more space in my brain. Space into which I could put, for instance, all the other things I have to do. Space to remember everything I need to remember, and arrange my life in the most time-effective and efficient way.

So, not like this guy. Image: smallbizmodo.com

So, not like this guy.
Image: smallbizmodo.com

Now, normally I’m not too bad. I’m usually pretty well organised. I get up early, I attack the day long before most people (I think anyone who does the sort of work I do would do the same), and I generally know what’s on the schedule from one day to the next. But there are times when I slip up, and that’s a real pain. I’ve been entering competitions, as you know, and trying to submit work to as many places as possible in the hope it might be suitable for publication. And I’ve mentioned before that there are lots of places to submit. So, it’s inevitable that, at times, stuff is going to slip through the cracks. I realised on Friday, for instance, that I’d allowed time to slip away from me, and that a competition deadline was approaching – and that, even if I acted fast, chances were I’d miss it.

This was a shame, because it was a competition I really wanted to enter. I’d noticed the call for submissions a few weeks ago, and I’d had an idea. I kept this idea on a particular shelf in my brain, ripening like a fine cheese; every so often I’d turn it, tend it, and check how it was getting on. Unlike a good cheesemaker, though, I allowed too much time to go by – I left it too long on the shelf. By the time I hurried it out into the light, I fear not only did I spoil it, but also left myself too little time to get it out into the world. The competition is in the UK, and the closing date is early this week. I sent my entry, but I have a feeling it will be too late. I also know that I should have spent more time on the story, if I’d had time to spend.

I got very side-tracked with ‘Eldritch’ last week; I really allowed it to take over all the space I had in my head. So, other things (like checking up on a contact I hadn’t heard from, sending a few emails re. an upcoming publication, and – of course – sorting myself out for upcoming competitions) fell by the wayside. I don’t want this to happen again, because it makes me stressed. There are, of course, a few simple steps that can be taken to avoid a recurrence – first among these is ‘not relying on your holey brain to remember everything, and getting a calendar’; second would be ‘not forgetting to take a big red marker and write the stuff you need to remember on the calendar.’ I’ll probably end up writing notes on my hand to remind me to write on my calendar, which will devolve into tying pieces of string onto various extremities and leaving myself Post-It notes all over the house… I can see it turning into a total disaster, but it’s better than nothing. At the moment, I normally put reminders on my phone to help with time management and organisation, but I think the poor device is going to raise the white flag shortly and beg for parlay. Plus, if I lose the phone, my whole life goes with it. That, naturally, would be a disaster.

Whatever way I choose to do it, there’s a job to be done. It’s (besides the physical action of putting words on pages) the most important job I have to do, which is making the most of the time I have, and doing as much as possible in every working day. I have a lot of ground to cover in a reasonably short space of time, and so every second is important. So, today’s agenda looks like this: my (wonderful) husband gave me some interesting and useful feedback on the first 10,000 words of ‘Eldritch’ yesterday, so I’m off to rethink the opening sections. I’m still determined to get the book submitted to agents, but this time I want to make sure I don’t send it until it’s as ripe, tasty and perfect as I can make it. If I’m to keep to my schedule, then, I’m going to need to have the most efficient working week I’ve ever had!

Determination, organisation, motivation… and a lot of perspiration! Hope your week is shaping up to be fun, creative and (happily) busy, too.