For Writers, Other

Pacing Yourself

NaNoWriMo burnout is real.

Yes, it is just the first week, but I think it is important to talk about pacing yourself before you actually burn out.

Plus, this doesn’t just happen during NaNo either. For me, it happens during October, when holidays, birthdays, school grading, Preptober, and more are all stacked on each other.

For you, it might just be each week or month when the bills need to be paid, the fridge needs to be restocked, and a pile of laundry keeps staring you down every time you come into a room.

The real question is, though, how do you pace yourself?

Self Care Sundays

Now, it doesn’t actually have to be a Sunday, but dedicating a weekly self care day can be extremely beneficial. And the best part is that you don’t have to do the same kind of self care every week, but if you are a ritualistic type of person, you totally can.

For some, this might look like taking a nice long bath. For others, maybe a walk through the neighborhood park. Or for some, activities like working out, game night with friends, or popcorn and a movie with family can all be considered self care.

The important thing is that you are scheduling time for you. Time to relax. Time to not work. Even if it isn’t a whole day and is just an hour or two, by setting yourself some scheduled time to detach from your tasks and to do list, you’ll probably be more prepared to tackle the rest of it afterwards.

A Venn diagram of what defines self care
I love this image from glaad.com because it sums up self care so nicely

Learning to say “no”

I did a whole post about how saying “no” was an epiphany moment for me. The point is, that when you take the time to say “no” to things that don’t mean something important to you or are a responsibility that you absolutely HAVE to deal with, then you are essentially saying “yes” to the fact that you are more important than adding another stressor to your plate.

I sometimes joke that I no longer have too much on my plate, that I’ve upgraded to a platter, but more and more I’ve been paring back. Most of the time, when we say “yes” to things that we feel like we have to do, or we do it out of fear of disappointing someone, we are hurting our morale and mental health as well.

Let me be clear, though, saying “no” to feeding your dog or taking your kids to school are not the kinds I’m talking about. Those are the HAVE to’s that you have responsibility for. I’m talking about taking on a project at work, or setting yourself an arbitrary and stressful deadline just because. Find the things that you can say “no” to and do it.

Find a productivity method that works for you

Sarra Cannon on Heart Breathings uses the Pomodoro Technique to focus her work. Other writers use word sprints of their own making. And some people use to do lists, planners, phone reminders, etc. to make sure that the time that they have to get things done is spent solely on that–getting things done.

Social media, family, notifications, bills, cleaning, etc. the list goes on and on with things that we can use to distract from getting our work done. And many times, if we don’t go in with a plan, we let those distractions in and it eventually ends up making us procrastinate, stress out, and rush our productivity. This is probably the biggest factor leading to burn out because it is so sneaky that sometimes we don’t even realize what is happening until we are two hours into YouTube videos about food hacks we’ll never try.

Web tools and other media outlets graphic
There are so many tasks that we feel we have to get done, but many actually decrease our productivity

So, browse the internet for an app that can help you…

Stay focused
  • Carrot punishes you for procrastinating and rewards productivity with point you can redeem for prizes, plus it’s sassy
  • Cold Turkey will temporarily block distractions that may prevent you from getting work done (Mac OS only)
  • Forest sets timers like the Pomodore Technique so you can stay productive and monitor your time better
Automate smaller tasks
  • IFTTT (If this, then that) app helps you set up pathways that will take some of the menial tasks off of your plate. I use it to automate posting new IG and blog posts to Twitter and Pinterest so I don’t even have to worry about that
    Buffer app allows me to schedule social media posts ahead of time, so that I don’t have to log on and post in the moment, my captions, hashtags, and photo are ready to go whenever I need or whenever I schedule
Streamline productivity
  • Trello helps me create digital cork boards where I can organize and place info and access them from anywhere. I use it all the time to plan out social media, work on editing notes, plan stories, and more.
  • Pocket allows you to save important sites, articles, etc. for viewing later. Instead of getting lost in it now, you can create a list to look at later.

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