Prioritising – how do you know when enough is enough?

I’ve just read this great post on Kristen Lamb’s blog about prioritising. She uses a great a great analogy about reaping and sowing that I won’t repeat here – if you’re interested, check out the brilliance directly here:

I know for my own part I often struggle with prioritising. People think I’m so organised, but to use a swimming teacher analogy (I’m a swimming teacher in my other life, so I can use one if I want to), I often feel like I’m taking on water, panicking about everything I’ve got to do and struggling to breathe.

It doesn’t help that I keep on taking on extra responsibilities.

This year for instance I finally got my first book published, KillingMeSoftly_cover(romantic suspense novel, Killing Me Softly) have another one just recently contracted (Paranormal romance, Dark Moon – those edits will be arriving any day) and I’m trying to write a new book, redraft another one and all this while I raise my kids, do family things, see my friends so they don’t forget about me and I don’t turn into one of those Morlock creatures from The Time Machine

Morlock from The Time Machine 2002

Morlock from The Time Machine 2002

who live in the dark, are allergic to light and are serious social pariahs – they eat the good surface folk (sounds a bit like a zombie to me – great monsters for nightmares), as well as work all the hours I did before and work on building my author platform on social media (I’ll take a breath now!)

Not only that, I decided it would be a great idea to not only volunteer to be a contest manager for RWAustralia (something I’ve done for 4 years) but to agree to become the Contest Co-Ordinator and be on the committee – a great opportunity with fabulous avenues for personal development, learning and networking, but still a lot of extra work and burden in an already overburdenend life.

However, I will fit it in, because like so many women before me, I’m a super woman. Or, I’m expected to be. And I only need somewhere in the vacinity of 4 hours sleep per night – at least that’s what I’m telling myself at the moment.

Maybe I am already turning into one of the monsters I write about!

Anyway, I digress.

I am happy to do all of this right now (although more sleep would be good), because I know that if I work hard now, it will begin to pay off in the future. In small degrees to begin with, but slowly, it will build and I will see return on my investment. Hopefully.

No, negative part of me. I WILL see a return. A good one. A very good one.

And the reason I know this is true is becuase of what has come in the past. Because I know that prioritising is important, but sometimes it’s just as important to take on more than you think you can and go with it for a while.To ignore the little voice in the back of your head that tells you you’re going to fail. To laugh in the face of defeat and hopelessness – although the giddy slightly off-kilter sensation I get from little sleep probably helps with this! 🙂

I struggled for years to make myself put my writing first. It was too easy when other people in my life were treating it like some ‘funny little hobby Leisl has’, to treat it seriously myself. When you hear something so often, or feel the thought from others so often, it’s easy to believe it. I mean, my family were great about it, but it’s hard to see the benefit when there’s so much work and heartache and no real, grab it in your hand, visceral reward.

The only problem was, I HAD to write. There’s no choice for me. My brain is too busy and if I don’t write, it feels like it’s going to explode. Writing is my release. So, I eventually taught myself (a lesson I still have to keep learning) to speak positively about me as a writer and think positively about me as a writer. I began to tell people I am a writer and not physicaly cringing as I waited for their inevitable response (usually uncomfortable laughter that you could be so deluded, or incredulous disbelief).

My desk. Laptop usually sits in the middle.

My desk. Laptop usually sits in the middle.

I made myself a space in our house and told my family they weren’t to touch it, or sit there, or use my computer because it was mine and surely I am entitled to a small bit of space in my house that is my own? I fiercely guard that writing space and I guard my writing time. I prioritised my writing as being something important, put my head down and worked. Nothing much happened for a long time and then suddenly, in the last year, I saw evidence that all my hard work was paying off and I got a contract with Penguin Australia’s new digital imprint, Destiny Romance.

Now I’m reading books on social media and building a platform(Kristen Lamb’s ‘Rise of the Machines: Humans in a Digital World is especially good) because it’s not just enough to write and publish a book nowadays, you must build a platform and keep it afloat by being active and present and share. The sharing is easy for me because I’m a talker and story teller, but being active and present regularly is harder given I’m not a massively social person, not to mention all the time restraints. But I’m trying to prioritise to make it part of my life every day, just as my writing is part of my life every day – because they are all part of the whole, and funnily enough, I’m actually finding it fun. Connecting with people I don’t know or know only a little is cool.

I try to do social media at times that I won’t write – like in the afternoon when the kids are home from school and I write mostly when they’re not there in between work and picking them up, or early in the morning. I know that no amount of social media platform building will mean a damn if I don’t have another book coming.

And I do. (Dark Moon – contracted). And another (Healer Moon – first draft done). And another (Blood Moon – WIP).

Little Monsters

Little Monsters

It is always a juggle though with family and work and the volunteering I do for RWAustralia. But I’m trying to do it in a way that’s not going to drive me crazy and turn me into this:

I know I’m not always going to find that balance, but that I am working on that too and I know, like Kristen says in her blog, that I need to stay fluid with my priorities and try to figure out when enough is enough for some things. I think it is hard to admit that something has a use by date, particularly when we are used to it, or others are relying on us to do it, but use by dates are there for a reason and we should take note of them.

I have no idea what my use by dates will be or what they will refer to first, but I will try to be open to accepting them, because I am in this for the long haul (and I really don’t want to turn into a Zombie Morlock.)

What do you struggle with? Do you get to do the things you love or do they get pushed aside? What things have you had to put aside to make room for others?

One Comment on “Prioritising – how do you know when enough is enough?”

  1. I’m stiill in the Silent Years phase and yes, I struggle with prioritising. I have a volunteer gene that sees me being on my son’s scouts committee, helping with his drama performances, working in the sports canteen, being an RWA volunteer etc. Well, someone has to do it. (Oh and did I mention that I homeschool my son? lol). Good thing I’m superwoman too 🙂

    I’m a lot better about making my writing a priority but being an externally-motivated person, it’s hard to keep writing with a delayed reward. That’s one reason I like contests – it gives me a deadline that I have to work to 🙂

    I do try to make sure I take time for me in the priority list. Time for my yoga class, time to read, to walk. Otherwise I am not a happy person to be around!

    Thanks for the post Leisl.

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