Pick Your Battles
Picture this: You are juggling four projects; all are pretty time sensitive. One happens to be your writing, which takes most of your time whether it’s the actual writing or marketing. Then you have a small personal project on the side that ideally, you want to be done at a certain time. But along with those two things, you are tasked with two big volunteer projects that not only take more time than you expected but in some ways ask more from you than you’d like.
Now, if you’re like me. You might have initially thought that you could handle all projects and get them done on time with no struggles, despite the fact you also have a number of events to attend the month the volunteer projects are due. In a fantasy world, this would be realistic, but not this in one. That’s something I had to find out the hard way.
You see, a few weeks back, I was talking to a writer friend at an event regarding some of the situations that I’d been dealing with regarding one of the volunteer situations. He smiled at me and nodded his head, seemingly reflecting back on his own past. He said to me, “Congratulations, you’ve graduated to [Senior] author! Many authors are stuck in that [honeymoon] phase.”
I laughed quite a bit at this and felt so much relief that I wasn’t alone and this was normal. That’s not to say doing volunteer work is bad, it’s great! But it becomes a problem when you spread yourself so thin that, like me, you put your real work; the work that pays the bills, off to the side. I came to a point where I put away my writing, reading, and stuff that made me happy just to help other people. I know this goes without saying, but that’s not the right way to go about things.
If you’re in a position where people are coming to you for volunteer work or help or something that could potentially put your primary goals/work off to the side. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “No thank you, I’m not interested.”
The unplanned projects, and at times the consequences of some, put me so far back, that even my emotions and energy were drained. I literally had to force myself to stop and do something that made me happy. And let me tell you, that was a challenge. I love to help and encourage people, but I can’t do that if I don’t respect myself enough to know when enough is enough. That I have too much on my plate.
You might not be a writer or an artist of any sort. Maybe you’re a business person or work as a cashier. This kind of situation applies to anyone of any age. Choose your battles wisely. Know what your limits are and don’t do what I did and try to convince yourself that you can push just a bit farther. It’s unhealthy and in the long run, it will wear you down.