Basking in Multi-Tasking

“Multi-tasking – Screwing everything up simultaneously.” – Anonymous

Well, let’s hope I don’t screw up everything

I recently shifted to freelancing for my existing employer, so with the exception of one day a week, I can do my work from home.  Yes, that is quite awesome, and I’m not saying I’m not enjoying it.  What I’ve discovered, though, is how much more it stresses me out to not have that set schedule.  Do I get my work stuff out of the way first thing in the morning, or do I work on my manuscript when I’m still fresh?  Should I write my work blog first or save the writing energy for this one, and do either before or after folding the laundry and scrubbing the shower?  Should I tend to the Monkey or the manuscript?  My work email or my personal email or my Monkey email or my other personal email that I also need to use for work?  I literally have tabs open for everything at once and been starting something in one window and switching to tweak something in a different one before the first thing is done.  Though it’s stupidly minor, somehow it helps me to do all my personal/writing-related and work-related schtuff through separate browsers…then I can bookmark accordingly and not have it all staring me down at once.

Soon to be thrown into this loop is *hopefully* dipping my toe back into the classroom to substitute-teach once a week 🙂  And, as of Friday, I’ve accepted a position as Developmental Editor for a new publishing company (also work that will be done remotely)—so once I become certified, I’ll have other people’s fiction manuscripts thrown my way while I’m still trying to finish my own!  I absolutely embrace the opportunity, though, and think it will 1) be refreshing to step outside my own writing at those times it bogs me down, and 2) teach me so much that I can relate back to my own story.  I am super, super psyched about helping others fulfill their writing dreams in this new way.  You can be sure I’ll be keeping you posted on this blog how that goes…

So that’s my update.  I am suffering a massive professional split personality right now, and it’s that much more potent because these are all things I’m personally passionate about and for the most part incorporating into my own home.  So is this exciting that I’ve achieved the point where what I do is so much of who I am day-to-day, or am I going to go batty without the work-life division that helps maintain the work-life balance?  I think it can be the former as long as I keep myself disciplined yet remember it’s okay and necessary to put the work aside and walk away when I need to live.  I know how to prioritize, and I know how to accomplish things bit by bit.  Yeah, I think it’ll be a good thing.

But I don’t know, I’m too busy to think about it now, so I’ll schedule a time to think about it later…

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” – Scarlett O’Hara

Any of you have some tried-and-true time-management strategies that work well for you?


About thefallenmonkey

Primate that dapples in writing when not picking others' fleas or flinging its own poop. View all posts by thefallenmonkey

22 responses to “Basking in Multi-Tasking

  • Agatha82

    Congratulations! Wonderful to hear you can work from home but I can understand how stressful and difficult it is. I found that out just by giving up my day job to write my novel and as I wrote a while ago, I realised I needed a kick up the arse to motivate myself. You have to set yourself daily tasks/goals/deadlines and follow through. At least I have to or I spend hours gazing out the window daydreaming.

    Developmental Editor…that sounds fascinating. Does that mean you have to suffer the slush pile or are you past that and only have to deal with already approved manuscripts? Very cool.

    I would love to do freelancing but I have to look into it as I have no idea how to go about it.

    I’m sure that through trial and error, you will find what schedule works best for you. It may be a bit chaotic and stressful at first, but once you find your groove, I am sure all will fall into place 🙂

    • thefallenmonkey

      You know, I was thinking of you specifically when I wrote this post, knowing that you’ve been so hardcore disciplined with your revision/submission process since leaving work. Seriously, lady, hats off to you. I can’t seem to get myself up anywhere near 7:30am, but have no qualms staying up until 2:30am 🙂 I will follow your advice, though, and set those daily goals.

      Fortunately, no slush pile for me. I have a lot to learn about its inter-workings, but the business (a very, very new one learning its way) has multiple tiers of editors, so the developmental level is the one that first sees the manuscript after approval and does the meatiest work on it—conventions, plot/character-development, etc. Will be very interesting to see how this process goes…Thanks for you encouragement!

      • Agatha82

        My daily goals have gone out the window since I finished that draft. Trying to get back into motivated mode but all I’ve done is read books lately but the books are useful so I won’t kick myself for that 🙂

        Good thing you are avoiding the slush pile. Your new job sounds very interesting I am sure you will learn a lot from it!

        • thefallenmonkey

          (I fixed your “good” – no shame in it, we all do it :)) I remember an author saying something to the effect of, “Every time you read a book, you’re investing in your writing.” So you are definitely doing the right thing, and that’s what I do as well. It feels like procrastinating, but you’re never really putting your story from your head, I’m sure, as, at least for me, every time I read, I compare in good and bad ways to my own undertaking. It has somehow both ruined and enhanced reading for me…yeesh, what we undergo in the name of writing.

          Even though I’m out of the slush pile, I’m wondering what I’ll actually be reading…my sister referred me for this role, as she’s been doing the same, and it sounds like their submission process is not the most rigorous. My sister just edited a manuscript of almost 180,000 words! And tripped over spelling/grammatical errors left and right. Because it’s new, hopefully they’ll learn to start clamping down and returning decent stories to authors for them to clean up themselves before sending back.

          • Agatha82

            180,000 words? Good god, that’s way too long lol and really, how can someone send something that’s got lots of bad spelling errors…I know we’re all guilty at times but they should be a bit more strict with that kind of thing. Good luck, let’s hope your first ms isn’t THAT long 🙂

          • thefallenmonkey

            *hee* Thank you, Agatha–I’ll start holding my breath for a nice, sleek 100,000-worder 🙂

  • Eva

    Ha! This post pretty much cries for a comment from Mrs. Multitask, with a proven track record of gloriously failed perfect time managment plans (see 45% of my blog posts).
    But first of all … congrats to you for all the up-dates. Am so excited for you! And for us, your followers, as now you have placed yourself in the intestines of the publishing business monster. Fair play to you!

    Anywho … after 6 months living out my passions (writing, writing, coaching, writing) pretty much 24/7 I can honestly say that I have given up this whole work-life-thingy. Basically, because there is no such destinction anymore! What I do IS my life, and it often feels like this self-sustaining power plant. So I don’t feel that much that I have to work. I am just drawn to it. For now I can only say that I hugely enjoy that I don’t have to make this distinction between my work and my life. Errrr, 90% of my days, anyway ….

    For the other 10%, I try to get myself somewhere where there’s no wireless, or just ask hubby to pull my nose out from whatever screen/book I am sticking it into, which he gladly does, usually. Hope this helped. And good luck with everything! 🙂

    • thefallenmonkey

      “the intestines of the publishing business monster” – *hee* We’ll see what excrement I come across in there 😉 ’tis a very new venture with, I believe, an almost entirely remote staff, so methinks I’ll be experiencing the trials and tribulations of becoming a publisher in addition to the editing.

      Hurray! I see you’re back in the blogosphere! I’ve been tending to this realm in fits and starts this week, so can’t wait to swing back over. “So I don’t feel that much that I have to work. I am just drawn to it.” – I really, really love that, as I’m starting to find in my third week with this status that I’m gradually letting go of the convention of the “work day”…and even if I am still a little sloppy in terms of keeping my focus on one project at a time, I’m feeling less stressed about that and actually not minding working late into the wee hours if it means I can also play during the day.

      I will definitely follow your lead during those haggard 10% of days and just unplug and step away. Thank you, m’dear for the support, and I can’t wait to hear how your productive summer has been!

  • Nick

    Hey that all sounds very exciting….well done you!
    I am sure being the organized resourceful glob you are, you will sort out the prioritising, & obviously being born of the female gender you are already pre-programmer for multi-tasking ( unless that is just a line us gullible males are fed!)
    Enjoy the freedom and embrace the variety.

    • thefallenmonkey

      Aw, thank you, Nick. I appreciate your faith in my organization…guess if I maintained it (somewhat) in the work environment I was in, I can persevere through this! And you are correct, multi-tasking is only found in that second X chromosome ;).

  • Milo James Fowler

    On the one hand, I envy you. Being able to work from home should allow you much more time to focus on your writing. But for me, I would need to set daily goals (as Agatha wrote) to keep myself on track. Otherwise, I know I would end up distracting myself, being my own worst enemy!

    • thefallenmonkey

      Oh, I hear ya on that! A friend once quoted to me, “When you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute,” which has totally enabled my procrastination ever since 🙂 After giving myself these couple weeks to kind of doggy-paddle through the new situation, I do think I’ll need to set a schedule for myself. As unpleasantly rigid as that may seem, I must remember I can still meet that schedule in my PJs and no makeup 🙂

  • sharmon

    Congrats on all the excitement! Sounds very cool. I’m diehard multitasker but get most accomplished when I “hone in”. That means that I have several things going at once, but get the best work when I really bear down on one of the projects. Ex: I’m editing my first completed novel; I’m planning to open a blog site soon and so have begun making the rounds and educating myself (you’ve helped–thanks!); I’ve begun fall cleaning/shifting; I’ve been writing poetry (presumably to fit into the body of my MS, but it sorta took on a life of its own…); plowing through a stack of research books for said novel; writing blog posts (for my as yet imaginary blog); have been studying paint swatches and floor coverings for a badly needed house tweak; sewing and new sewing projects lined up…there’s more but will only bore you. I only work from home one day per week (writer’s heaven, I admit) and have no children home (mixed blessing–can be sad) and so most days I get to set my own schedule. I have found it incredibly tough. All that “freedom” can be very weighing. I’m often torn and my schedule changes because my energy levels are widely fluctuating (hormones, if you get my drift). Should I exercise to get the blood to my brain or write now while the day is young? If I don’t exercise fairly early it is very probable I won’t get to it and therefore will get fat and depressed and then I won’t be able to write…I have to juggle all the above and still manage to keep a steady word count and keep off/lose weight. Being a night owl rather than an early bird only seems to make it harder.
    I guess this hasn’t helped except for the commiseration! But know that I feel where you’re coming from. For me it does help to PICK ONE and put the others on the backburner; things on the backburner still get stirred and cooked, but not w/ the same intensity as the main dish. When I’m absorbed in a project I get tunnel vision and the rest of the world melts away. I know this so I pick my main project carefully.
    Please share any insights you gain!

    • thefallenmonkey

      “things on the backburner still get stirred and cooked, but not w/ the same intensity as the main dish.” – I LOVE that metaphor! Brilliant. And honestly, really does help me to visualize my divide-and-conquer strategy feeling less guilty that what falls lower down on the priority list will be neglected…it won’t, just left to simmer, as you say. I’m doing this right now with the blogging realm, for example…will have to catch up on my reading and commenting bit by bit, so hopefully my fellow bloggers have patience with me 🙂 Speaking of which, I am psyched for your blog to go live. Your comments on mine alone have been so insightful and thoughtful, surely signs of good things to come from you!

  • Lua

    Wow! And I was whining because I have to pack & write at the same time and that’s just too much multitasking for me 🙂
    But sounds like you have some amazing stuff on your plate: teaching, freelance writing, being able to go to work in your pajamas and being a development editor (which I think will help you very much with your own MS)… I wish you luck my friend but I don’t think you need it 😉

    • thefallenmonkey

      Oh, trust me, your “whining” is well-justified. I would rather than do any of the crap I have to deal with than pack, especially for a long-term departure from home. Hey, I’ll take every ounce of luck you can send my way, and I send you mine too! 🙂

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  • Ollin

    Congrats! On work that is. I’m sure you’ll find the balance, monkey. You seem like a pretty put together gal. {Wait, I assumed you were a gal, but now I realized that the ambiguous title has left me making a guess. I hope I didn’t make a mistake. Thats happened before. lol}

  • liza

    Congratulations, and though I’m envious that you’re able to work from home, I’m more envious that you are able to work in an environment that is aligned with your goals (or at least support you toward them, re: helping write your own novel)!

    Keep us posted on how it’s all going! 🙂

    • thefallenmonkey

      Thank you, liza! You put it perfectly: “able to work in an environment that is aligned with your goals,” as that’s just what it is for the first time in my life. I will make sure to make the most of it, as who knows how fleeting this scenario may be 🙂 In the meantime, though, it’s helped me make tremendous progress on my novel, for which I am beyond grateful. Cheers!

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