Carving order out of chaos

Hey friends. These past six weeks have flown for me. I really don’t know what they all went to or where they flew, but whoops, it’s almost August and I feel lost in a cyclone of Things To Do.

So for the last week of July, I’m meditating on what I want the rest of the year to look like and how I can actually achieve that. My video business is by far my largest source of chaos. One day, my week looks free. The next, I’ve booked $2000 worth of clientele, another client has brought me revision requests on their project, and another wants a two hour coffee consult. Working for yourself really is feast or famine, and it’s especially stressful when 40 hours of your week is taken for a “real” job. And while I love that things are taking off, it is frustrating for my other pursuits, in that I set aside a block of time for something only to have it eaten by a business task.

Ya’ll know I’m all about schedules. So how do you schedule around unpredictability? How do you get things done when you’re basically on call for new work?

Well. I look at it like this – eventually, unpredictability becomes predictable. And over time, patterns emerge that I can exploit.

I have to stop thinking in routines. My last scheduling efforts utilized routines to do the same tasks every week, which eventually grew into habits. With the vast swathe of projects I’m being tasked with, I have to adopt a more “roll with the punches” schedule that tackles tasks as needed instead of on a set schedule. And looking into the future, it’s not terribly hard to do this.

I have one big video project coming up that will require at least one day of filming and a lot of editing. I’ve given myself a 4-5 week turnaround on the editing for it to be done. Looking ahead, I can already carve out time for this client and I will likely do it in blocks. Instead of devoting three hours every Tuesday to her project, and then getting more and more overwhelmed as the deadline approaches and other projects demand my time, I will likely devote every night for an entire week to her project, and hopefully keep the rest of the month open for my other tasks. It’s like playing Diner Dash!  You want to keep the counter clear and ready for the next order.

But how do I squeeze in stuff like novel writing and working on my Fallout series when I’m devoting huge blocks of time to clients? For some tasks, it means stretching them out over a longer period of time. I’m allowing myself until November to finish The Shadow of Saturn, which puts me at only 500-700 words per day to write. This is very manageable, even with a full client schedule. For the Fallout series, it means working in Unreal in long blocks of time when I don’t have client work filling it up, and delaying my initial proof-of-concept deadline from November to January.

It also means resigning myself to abandon some tasks. I have put my self publishing short fiction efforts on pause for now. I am not submitting 20 stories a month, but I do get out 5 or 6, depending on how fast the rejections come. I’m not doing any side hustles.

But the “binge working” method does seem to shape the rest of my year, as I am definitely planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, as well as the 3 Day Novel contest.  So maybe a few days of focus can create something great. We’ll just have to see, eh?

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5 thoughts on “Carving order out of chaos

  1. You’re not the only one struggling with scheduling lately… I’ve only managed to scrape out about 10,000 words in the last month since I’ve dedicated so much time to other pursuits. Good luck and hang in there!

  2. Unpredictability really does become predictable after awhile. However, I found that random day-to-day things still happen. When that happens, I could do all the planning I want but still be caught off guard. When that happens, I have to be flexible and adapt… usually that means saying “no” to that which drains my time and attention from what really matters.

    Looks like you’ve got a good system going. Good to hear your video business is taking off. I’m sure you’ll be able to adjust to the chaos!

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