How to juggle tasks and meet deadlines without going crazy – Lucie Wheeler

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By Lucie Wheeler

Those who know me or follow me on social media will know how many things I try to juggle daily and how often I speak about multitasking. Multitasking isn’t a skill I have always possessed. It has been something I have had to learn and craft to fit in with my lifestyle. I think it can be quite easy to get stressed under the pressure of having numerous deadlines and tasks and as a result of this stress, your work is affected and things start working against you rather than with you.♥

A little background on me for those who do not follow my story. I am a 31-year-old, married mum of one. Alongside looking after my family and the house I also write contemporary women’s fiction and have recently begun to branch out and plan a YA series as well as an educational children’s (preschool) series. I work in a preschool four days per week (soon to be five) and when I am not writing, or working, I am doing coursework because I am in my final year at university set to graduate from my early childhood degree this summer. So it goes without saying that my day-to-day life requires a lot of juggling and planning to make sure I am not only hitting deadlines for my publishers, but also for my day job and my degree too.

It sounds hectic and I am not going to lie, it is! But I am not the only person who has lots going on and so I thought I would share some of my personal tips and advice to help anyone else who is struggling to get things done.

1. Organise your mind as well as your workspace.

It goes without saying that your workspace should be organised and you should know where everything is and keep things separated into the jobs and tasks they require. But alongside this, I would say that your mind needs to have an element of organisation too. In my daily life I do a lot of writing, but this isn’t always the same type of writing. My creative writing for my stories is not that same as the academic writing for my coursework and I cannot go between the two styles too quickly. So for me, I set aside times to do the work. For example, I used to be on campus at university on a Monday and Tuesday, so I would set aside these days to do coursework and then use the rest of the week creatively. By separating my mind-set it meant that the work I was doing was of better quality because I was fully immersed in it.

2. Limit social media.

This can be a tough one because whether we like to admit it or not, social media is addictive. As a writer, social media plays a huge part in my career and I am on numerous sites. I can lose hours just by scrolling through each site and replying to messages and sharing things and self-promoting. It is all things I must do for my career but it can take over some days and result in limited productivity with the tasks that actually need the attention. So I try to limit my browsing time and only go on when I have completed a task or at set times during the day. When I have a deadline looming sometimes I will delete the aps on my phone so that I have to physically log onto my laptop to check so I check less.

3. Write a list.

I am a lover of lists and I just love the feeling of crossing things off when you complete them. I have been known to add something I know I have already done just so I can cross it off and give myself a little boost to get going! By writing things down you can see at a glance just how many things need to get done and when, and it makes it easier to project manage. This doesn’t have to be a physical list – you can add it to your electronic device or smartphone if you prefer or you can write it down and put it on the fridge or by your desk. I have a big white board in my office which I use to section off my different working ‘hats’ and list my tasks. Then I can see very clearly what needs to be done and what is constantly getting wiped off and re-added week after week!

4. Work in order of deadline, not ease.

I am VERY guilty of doing this on the regular and it is something I have to try very hard not to do. Try to make your list – mental or physical – and organise it in order of when the tasks need to be done and work through it. As with any task, there will be things that take minutes to do and things that take hours, even days, to complete and naturally, you want to cross of all the quick things first to fool yourself that you are being proactive and productive. Whilst this will look good on paper, you are essentially ignoring the more pressing matters and creating additional stress for yourself. You don’t want to get to a week before deadline and have all your long, drawn out tasks to do. Work by date, not by size.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

We are human, we aren’t machines. It is ok to ask for help sometimes and actually, those around you will probably appreciate being able to take some of the pressure off you. They may not be able to write your dissertation paper or fill in your assessment baselines for your key children, but they can do the school run, make dinner or pick up the dry cleaning. Let those around you take the slack for some of the more general tasks so it leaves you time to focus and complete the more challenging ones which, ultimately, means you will get more time to spend with your loved ones once it is complete!

But we are all individual and work differently. I would love to hear some of your tips for staying organised and meeting deadlines.

Lucie Wheeler lives in Essex with her husband, daughter and her English bull terrier, Dame, who loves to sit under her desk as she writes and keep her feet warm. As a graduate of The London School of Journalism and one eighth of the writing group, The Romaniacs, Lucie is passionate about writing and continues to source new opportunities to share her words with the world. In 2013, Lucie won a New Talent Award at The Festival of Romance. Her new novel, Mums Just Wanna Have Fun, is out now as an ebook.

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