Work-Work Balance

If you are anything like me your “to do” list is too long and your timescale for completing the tasks too short. If you’re not careful you can wind up feeling stressed and achieving even less than normal because you feel overwhelmed.

To Do List by John Schultz courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

Part of the problem is that we kid ourselves about how much we are capable of doing. We have a tendency to think we’re super human and so we keep loading more and more on to ourselves until something gives and the cold winds of reality start to blow.

We also kid ourselves about how long the individual tasks are likely to take. Confident we can knock over five things on our stuff to do list when realistically, in the time we are allowing, two or possibly three are achievable at most.

The antidote to the stress of all this is often to write a new list, even though the list itself is often part of the problem. Why? Because we tend to load everything on to one list. We feel better simply for having recorded it all but I bet you do what I do and just write the list in an almost stream of consciousness way, spewing it all down in no particular order, just what pops into your head first

To do list
World’s Most Popular To Do List Software by I.A. Walsh courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

When we come to tackle the list most people will start at the top and try to work down it or we might cherry pick the easy jobs or the ones that just appeal to us the most. It’s not an efficient system.

So I decided to step back and work out what my priorities were so far as my writing was concerned.

For the last few weeks I have been trying a new system. I still write the stupidly long list that records everything I’m scared I might otherwise forget but then I categorise the list into Tier One Priorities, then Tier Two and then Tier Three. What gets Tier One status? Prepping the next two books for publication and increasing my reach and exposure. How does that shake out in terms of items on the list? Get the proofread finished for the novella I have coming out next and finish the edits on the book which will be published next summer, learn how to do Facebook ads and write my blog to increase my reach and exposure.

Now other items on my list may also fulfil the second part of a Tier One priority – to increase reach and exposure but they can’t all be a Tier One otherwise I’d have the same problem of overload. You have to be choosy. What is likely to have the most impact?

Choosy by Brett Jordan courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

I then have a realistic weekly target of what I want to achieve in the Tier One areas. Once I have hit those targets then I can move on to the Tier Two stuff. It’s why I don’t have as many Pinterest boards as I would like. I love Pinterest but right now other stuff is more important or why I’m not posting on Facebook every five minutes.

Focus by Dimitris Kalogeropoylus courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

Being focused is the key, for me at least. You could argue that the items languishing in the Tier Three section will never get done. You may be right but that was probably always the case. Right now I am getting more of the big stuff done with less stress and that has to be a good thing.


The Flower Seller cover came second in Author Shout’s Cover Wars. I would like to thank all of you who took the time and trouble to vote. #teamellie fought a good fight. We were pipped at the post in the run in but you guys were awesome 🙂

The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now

2 thoughts on “Work-Work Balance

  1. jozumwalt 04/08/2016 / 5:31 pm

    I have a ready-made note pad divided into DO NOW and DO LATER!


    • ellieholmesauthor 08/08/2016 / 11:22 am

      Excellent! Not sure it would work for me, however. I think I’d end up with five times as many tasks in the Do Now section compared to the Do Later section 😉 Ellie x


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