Learning to Expect
The Unexpected

© Cheryl Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved

 

 

I knew the end of this year was going to be a busy time, so before the kids were out of school for the summer I began writing lists of what I needed to do to get ready for my first book release in October.  

 

Plans changed, however, when I discovered my book was releasing two months early and I had to begin book promotion in earnest. As a mother and writer, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  

 

But what do you do when the unexpected is more than a one day change in plans?  

 

What do you do if this new project tosses everything in your life up in the air? 

 

First, take a deep breath. You can make it through the valley of unexpected happenings if you stay calm and focus on what needs to get done and how quickly. 

 

Sit down and look at your to-do list. Anything that isn’t a priority should be assigned a new due date immediately. Don’t take these tasks off your list or you’ll find reasons to keep them off the list.   

 

Normally, I spend a good portion of my day networking in some form or another. When I’m working on deadline, the networking decreases significantly. I can’t do both well, so my focus needs to be on the paying work.  

 

Review each item that is a priority and see if you can still meet your original deadlines. If you know it will be impossible, contact your client(s) immediately and request an extension. Professionals don’t wait until the due date to inform clients they can’t hand in an assignment. 

 

Hopefully your clients are fine with a small extension and that will give you some wiggle room to deal with your unexpected issues. 

 

If not, here’s where tracking your time will help. Tracking your time helps keep you focused on the task at hand. It also identifies areas in your schedule where time is being wasted. If you’ve just been dealt an unexpected hand, now isn’t when you squander the moments you have.  

 

Don’t wait until a situation arises to begin tracking your time. Do it today. Do it right now! That way, when the unexpected drops in, you’ll have a good idea of where you can gain back some time. 

 

Okay, you didn’t track your time and that crisis has just arrived. What do you do? 

 

Take that deep breath and pull out a piece of paper and a pen or sit down at your computer. Think about yesterday’s schedule. Write down what you did, when you did it, and how long it took. You’ll immediately notice some time wasters. Even those of us who are good time managers goof off every once in a while. Tracking your time makes you aware of those moments, so you’ll be able to plan a better schedule that allows you take that time to help deal with your unexpected project.  

 

Maybe the only way you can handle the unexpected is in timed sessions. Agree to work on that project in 10 minute intervals. Set a timer, begin, and stop when the buzzer goes off. Breaking your task down into smaller chunks will make it easier to handle, allow you to judge your progress, and keep you focused.  

 

Finally, once the unexpected task is nothing more than a checked-off item from your to do list, take a few moments to think about it. Was it truly unexpected? Is there a way it could have been avoided? If not, build a better schedule next time. Leave yourself a slightly larger cushion to cope with the unexpected. Before too long, the unexpected is bound to come your way again, but with the right tools, you’ll be in a stronger position to handle it. 

 

 

 

About the Author: CherylC. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in helping writers increase productivity through time management and organization. She has also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the editor of Musing Our Children’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens. Her first children’s book will be released in 2010. You can find out more about Cheryl by visiting her website 

 

 

 

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Writer's Guide to Time Management