It's summer, which means grilling season. Which is great, because it means winter is in the rearview mirror (hallelujah!). But the only thing getting overcooked around the Bentley house is me. And I don't mean a sunburn (though, let's face it, as a redhead that's a fair assumption).
I'm talking about burnout. And I think I finally figured out the root cause of why I burn out as easily as I seem to do. It's only taken me seven years or so, but better late than never, right? Here it is, in a nutshell:
I'm trying to be a full-time author with part-time availability.
Don't ask me how this term came to me, but it did. One day, out of the blue, as I was trying to figure out (again) how I was going to get it all done, this realization hit me. And it's stuck with me, which tells me I should pay attention.
For those who aren't familiar with me, let me fill you in a little here. I work full-time at the main branch of my county's public library. I'm responsible for cataloging (labeling and entering all items for circulation into our system). This is in addition to being responsible for coordinating interlibrary loans and courier items, managing/scheduling our social media, and handling our newsletter. I also create and run several programs throughout the year, and do builds for programming decoration (think prop creation-type stuff in movies on a really small scale. lol). Oh, and the college classes I have to take for certification (I'm too old for homework!!). Needless to say, I stay pretty busy in my day job.
Then there's the home stuff. Husband, kids, grocery shopping, meals, appointments, and so on. Plus whatever crisis of the week pops up and has to be handled. It's a lot. And when I do take time to do what I want (hobbies, television, and so on), the infamous guilt creeps and I wind up working while trying to do those things.
To say I get burned out easily tends to be an understatement. I rely heavily on coffee to get me through a lot of days. I would love to hire a full-time assistant but, as we all know, times are tough and bills have to get paid. So, I did what my little list-loving self does:
I made a list of everything I absolutely needed to do each week.
Not what I want to do, or what other authors are doing, but what I had to get done. Things like booking promotions or doing newsletters, or-you know-actually writing. The essentials. Then I charted out my time, blocked off when I am absolutely not available, and worked with the time I had left (including a block to get things done that I may have forgotten to list). And, I'm happy to note, that I blocked off time for me. Time when I'm not required to do anything but what I want to do. Watch a movie, read a book, do some crafts. Sleep!
It's early days yet with this chart. I'm hoping it will get me into a better routine and into a place where I enjoy the creation of stories again. Because it's become more work and I miss the fun of it! The thrill of knowing you're creating a new world and the characters that live in it. The absolute elation of releasing that book out into the world. I know it's a lot of pressure to put on one little chart, but I think it can handle it.
After all, my little list-loving heart laminated it and everything. ;)