As a person who runs several websites with media rich content, it is easy to get backlogged. I find myself feeling overwhelmed with 13 videos to edit, new content to upload, blog posts to write, plus needing to participate in social media every day. I am not a naturally organized person, but when I put my mind to it, I can become, in the words of Seven of Nine on “Star Trek Voyager”, highly efficient.
This means making a large weekly to-do list and breaking it down into bite-size pieces. Focusing on two or three short tasks early in the day frees me up tackle the longer, more complicated projects. If I take away the worry of the small stuff, I find I have better focus.
When I get backlogged I tend to beat myself up, like last week. After recording several sorting projects, I’ve barely touched the editing. I have several food videos to edit as well as to put together. And I feel useless. I’m thinking thoughts like, “I’m such a bad person.” I put pressure on myself to get it done and when things like technology don’t work, I get frustrated. Then I have to step back and breathe, just breathe, re-focus, and return to the task with a clear mind.
Backlog causes stress. There are many articles and e-books available that give you suggestions on how to stay organized, focused, and on task. I’ve tried several of these. They work, when I’m in a highly productive phase of my life, and feeling good about what I am doing.
It’s when I get into that funk, that mentality of “I don’t wanna” that causes the break down. As an artist I’m sensitive anyway, and these feelings can come up when they aren’t wanted. Should I be editing the video right after I shoot it? Of course! Why didn’t I? And there’s that huge emotional wall. And as someone with mental health issues it takes time to bounce back from the moments of insecurity and fear.
How to Deal with a Backlog of Work
Now I have a new plan. We sat down and made a list of tasks that need accomplished over the next two weeks. Each day I pick the most pressing items and address them. If I need a break I can look at my longer list and see what small things I can do to stay productive.
Self-care is a huge part of this process, too. I need to take time for Johnnie. Watch a favorite show, take a walk, spend some time on non-work related social media. When I feel overwhelmed and like the world is going to fall apart, that’s the moment I need to walk away from working and focus on doing something fun.
As adults we take our lives pretty seriously. My generation does, at least. Giving myself permission to be silly and fun for a few minutes allows me to relax. Once relaxed, I’m in a better state of mind to write, edit, and otherwise communicate with the world.
What can you do if you get stuck like this? Here’s a few suggestions:
- Make a priority task list. What’s the most important item on the board? New blog content? Photo editing? Cooking dinner? Tend to priorities, that way you won’t be worrying about them later.
- Daily to-do list. Tackle three things you know you can get done in a short amount of time. This will help with a sense of accomplishment. I call this the “little wins.”
- When you start to feel overwhelmed again, take deep breaths, step away from what you are doing and do something else for a few minutes. Drink some tea or watch a cute cat video. Then go back to the to-do list.
I find these few things help to get restarted. I mentioned above how I was able to get a perspective on what I need to do over the next two weeks. It seem like so much. But what I have listed immediately are small chunks. Things I can do that take a little effort. Just making the list gave me a road map.
Of course the goal is not to get backlogged like this in the first place. But, I’m human and it happens. The important thing is to not give into the negative emotions. Not to play the old tapes of “bad” and “wrong.” Getting stuck in the negative keeps me unproductive. I have to open up and say, “Ok, I missed a few days. Now I need to work a little harder to finish the projects.”
As an artist it’s easy to get caught up in the emotional carnage of our feelings, of other people and their stories. As an artist it’s up to me to pull myself out and work. It’s the only way I’m going to get paid.
Every time I promise myself I won’t fall down. But I’ve fallen short on these promises. Will I ever be able to not get backlogged” It would be nice to think so, but highly doubtful. What can I do? Follow through on the suggestions made in this post. And keep my eyes on the goal of creating content that all of you will enjoy!