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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Scatterbrained


I don’t have a picture to go with this post.
So how about a cute picture of my dog?

Two weeks ago, I went into my 4-day Labor Day weekend feeling more than a little scatterbrained – as in, my mind was so scattered I couldn’t focus on anything.  There was so much I wanted to get done in those four days: ready a manuscript to send to my agent, plan revisions on another project, draft a short story that was under contract, read through the galley pages of The Caged Graves a second time, fulfill my promise to beta-read two manuscripts, and schedule blog posts for the upcoming week.  But with all these things swimming around in my head, I couldn’t focus on any one of them, and it was stressing me out.
So my husband made martinis, took me out to the hot tub, and made me recite everything I thought I had to do – along with the due date for each, where applicable. And he made me see that all of it was doable in its own time – and that not all of it needed to be done that weekend. The short story isn’t even due until December – why was I worrying about it in September? Some of the projects just required me to put my butt in the chair and do it – like the beta readings – but others were going to need to simmer over a few days – like the revision plans.
He wanted me to make a schedule, but schedules give me a rash!  Just having the dates and priorities pointed out to me was enough to rein in all those scattered pieces of my brain. And he also made me see the importance of walking away from every single one of them for large chunks of the weekend.  I took a bike ride with my husband, watched a movie with my girls, read a book for pleasure, and enjoyed the company of visitors.
Out of the seven things I wanted to get done, only three of them were finished by the end of the weekend.  But then again, the rest didn’t need to be. My goals were unrealistic and unnecessary.
When you take on too much – what helps you wrangle control of your scattered tasks? Thank heavens for my sensible spouse (and the hot tub/martini didn’t hurt either). What helps you?

19 Responses to Scatterbrained

  1. I’m a list maker, but it does help to have a rational calm hubby too. I tell him he’s like my therapist. LOL

    And that is a cute pic of your dog!

  2. E. Arroyo says:

    I do better writing things down on a calendar I keep on my fridge. If it’s not there, it doesn’t exist. But I have to remember to add the fun things like spending time with family. It happens, but it’s not on my list. Great post.

  3. I’m not good with deadlines. But then, I’ve never had any writing related deadlines. I wonder if I’d be better at them?

  4. SA Larsenッ says:

    He made you see that it was all doable in its own time… Perfect. I love that. So wise.

    I’m about to enter that same ring, Dianne, and the thought of my deadlines is totally stressing me out already. This should help. Thanks.

  5. Your husband is a gem.

    I do what your husband had you to do, minus the hot tub and martinis. I write everything down, including the due date, and prioritize. If I don’t write things down, I usually won’t do them. Have a good weekend, Dianne. 🙂

  6. My brain would have just exploded if I had to think about all the things you needed to do. Glad your hubby helped you before you went crazy from the stress of it.

  7. Linda G. says:

    I see your husband also recognizes the magic of martinis. 😉

    Sounds like you had a splendid Labor Day weekend. Keep that husband! 🙂

  8. You should be proud you accomplished the three things. I get overwhelmed sometimes, thinking about the things I need to do. Schedules are a great thing.

  9. I often put too much on my plate. My eyes are bigger than my stomach, I guess, but I got a lot out of this book called Bird By Bird, an excellent resource for those who like to take on more than we can chew. 🙂

  10. Oh my gosh Dianne- this is like every day of my life. I think I need to do a million things by the end of the day (which in these parts is 2am). So happy your husband was able to help you talk through it. Bike-rides, time with your girls, those are the important things. I’ve started breaking down my (imaginary) to-do lists better. So I won’t just think: revise manuscript. I will think: revise first 30 pages. Instead of: finish manuscript by Oct. It’s: write three new chapters. etc. So far, all this has changed my productivity for the better.

  11. Your husband sounds like a real keeper, Dianne! I do this sometimes, too, and my hubby helps me to put it in perspective as well.

  12. I have a healthy reliance on planners, lists and not so healthy one on weekend mojitos.

  13. Usually, the more things I have to do, the better I function, because I’m forced to get ‘er done. But my grandmother’s philosophy was more along the lines of: when you have so many things to do that you don’t know which one to do first, don’t do any of them. She said sometimes you have to step back and take a deep breath. (Even more enjoyable when it involves a hot tub, a sweet husband, and an adult beverage.)

  14. I always want to complete everything right now. And then I get disappointed. I love that your husband made you see that you were being unrealistic. It can be so detrimental to getting stuff done. 🙂 It sounds like you got a great deal done!

  15. mshatch says:

    I ony make lists when I have too much to do and then I organize it according to what needs to get done first and work my way down.

    Glad Bob was able to help you relax and decide what needed to get done and leave the rest 🙂

  16. I make lists, I put post-its on a calendar, I’m unorganized, and I don’t like deadlines. What a combination!

  17. Way to go, Dianne! It’s always good to take a break from your scedule as long as it’s not too long away! I am a list maker and I get ridiculous waves of pleasure from ticking items off! Silly I know but it makes me feel I have acheived something…

  18. Lydia Kang says:

    Usually social networking falls to the side when things get busy. Oh, and household chores, of course!

  19. Tonja says:

    I put tasks on a calendar. It makes me feel like I have control over the chaos. And I clean – for the same reason. 🙂