Heeding my own advice: Getting your arms around a fat deadline

November 20th, 2007

My life has changed a lot since the month began. From July to November, I was burning the candle at both ends, jugging a contract gig with freelance writing deadlines, which I realize is ironic for someone who wrote a book with a hefty work/life balance theme. But sometimes you need to bring home a little extra bacon, so I bit the bullet and toiled a little more than I should. And now I am free. FREE.

First thing I did to decompress was go here, then here. Then I read this, and this, and even took in a bit of this. Along the way, I taught a class, applied for a grant, and turned in a couple short articles. But it still felt like a vacation.

After two weeks of this luxuriating, I realized it was time to face the music. What I haven’t told you is that I have a Very Large Writing Project due in a few months, and while that’s quite exciting, the time management aspect of it is a little scary to me, especially since I’m essentially home in my jammies with zero structure whatsoever for the first time in many months. So I decided to crack open The Anti 9-to-5 Guide and take some of my own medicine. In particular, this tidbit from page 59:

“Use a wall calendar, notebook, or spreadsheet to measure your progress: how much time you spent on your project each session and what you accomplished. This will help you see the bigger picture come into focus.”

I suspected that making a list of all the components of this Very Large Writing Project and their deadlines, target word count, state of done-ness, and final word count would be freeing. So I cribbed a spreadsheet template that my friend Ariel, who completed this Very Large Writing Project a while back, used to help her feel calm about the whole thing. (Thanks, lady!)

I’m excited to move the project management aspect of this beast from my head to my laptop. Not only do I feel more organized, I already feel less stressed about the whole thing. Rather than having to wonder where I am in the project, if I am on schedule, if I’m over or under the desired word count, and how much writing/editing I have left to go, I can just crack open my spreadsheet and feast my eyes upon the data. Of course, I have yet to add in the deadlines as that would move me from a state of denial to one of reality, but I plan to force myself to go there today. Good luck to me.

Entry Filed under: Book,Creative process

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. skykomie  |  November 20th, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    i’m always telling danly that spreadsheets are your friend. See how helpful! for all our x-country moves, i make tons of spreadsheets. they make me feel safe and warm inside. like linus’ blanket for the wired

  • 2. Rachel  |  November 22nd, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Do tell darling!… Just what is this “Very Large Writing Project?” You know that I’ve got my fingers crossed to read another book of yours!
    Hope you’re doing well.

  • 3. Michelle Goodman  |  November 24th, 2007 at 10:53 am

    All in good time, my pretty…

  • 4. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  November 27th, 2007 at 4:13 am

    [...] Last week I talked about swallowing my own medicine by creating a detailed spreadsheet to help me wrap my brain around a big fat deadline. Somewhere between the holiday turkey and stuffing this past weekend I realized that when it came to getting reacquainted with working toward a beefy, long-range project deadline while sitting home in my union suit, I still had miles to go before I could consider myself a lean, mean well-oiled machine. [...]

  • 5. Alfa  |  December 17th, 2007 at 9:00 am

    I use a whiteboard to only track of deadlines and to-do’s. But using spreadsheets sounds fun, too. I’m currently looking for some sample productivity spreadsheets that aid in monitoring work progress. Do you know of any?

  • 6. Michelle Goodman  |  December 17th, 2007 at 10:44 am

    alfa, i just make my own spreadsheets. but check out the tools this post links to:

    Tools for web workers

    one of them is bound to work.

  • 7. Alfa  |  January 1st, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks, Michelle.
    has a post on 7 Ways to Track your goals and there are some great tools there that someone who wants to start beating a deadline or achieving a goal can make use of.

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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