You’ve probably seen the shows about hoarding on A&E or TLC. If not, don’t click here or here lest you become hopelessly addicted. In a nutshell, both programs document the lives of those who are prisoners of their own possessions — literally trapped in giant piles of stuff with no idea how to escape. My life is not so dissimilar from the life of a hoarder. While I don’t hoard physical belongings, I will hoard up every bit of content that comes my way.
So how do you know if you’re a content hoarder? Have you ever:
- Eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner because deadlines were getting close?
- Told your friends or family that, as a content writer for hire, you’re much too busy to come out and play?
- Spent an entire week saying “I’ll go to the store tomorrow” because you were busy writing?
- Said “YES!” to a job before you really looked at the scope of the work?
- Had a complete meltdown when your internet connection went down?
- Forgotten the joys of a weekend with nothing at all to do?
If you’re nodding along in agreement with some of these things, congratulations! You’re probably a content hoarder too. Like me, you spend a good bit of your time shuffling teetering piles of jobs. Sometimes those figurative piles come crashing down, leaving my husband wondering if there’s such a thing as a professional content organizer that he can sic on me.
It’s a good thing to “make hay while the sun shines,” but that only goes so far. You have to make sure you have time for you and your family. Fortunately, there are a number of ways for content hoarders to cope.
Just Say No
It might go against every fiber of your being, but it is OK to turn down work sometimes. If you can’t get the job done well and on time, express this to you client politely. In fact, this tactic might even work in your favor. When clients see that your services are in high demand, they might offer you better deadlines so that you have time for yourself and for the job.
Become a Professional Content Organizer
Relying on sticky notes and the contents of your inbox is not a good way to track your deadlines. Find a solution that puts all of your deadlines in one place, like phone notifications or a desk calendar. I do it the old-fashioned way with a little notebook that lists titles, dates, and times. One quick glance tells me which days are free for more work, and which days are packed. Plus, there are very few things more satisfying to me than crossing items off a list.
Streamline the Administrative Work
I love statistics, to the point that I’ll make spreadsheets that track how much time I spend making spreadsheets. Figure out those things that you really need to track. Don’t waste time on the stuff that is interesting, but not necessary. Keep income and expense records, budget for taxes, and log how many hours you spend actually working. If there are issues with your workflow — such as too much time spent researching or neurotic spreadsheet construction — do what you can to correct them.
To avoid becoming a content hoarder, focus on the quality — not the quantity — of your writing and your life. Extra money is nice, but then again, sanity is a nice thing to have too.
Amber K enjoys writing about home improvement, gardening and the great outdoors. When she’s not sitting in front of a computer, she can be found developing strategies to conquer the world – or at least her own little piece of it!