You know what? This applies to you too: today is not the day you’re going to turn it all around.
I’ve been having trouble keeping up with my ambitious plan to work better, more or less since I came up with it. (Cormac McCarthy, alas, remains unopened on my desk.) But now I’ve come up with a simple Work Schedule in an Excel file. I have a column for the novel I’m currently working on (Radisson) and another column for a big translation project that has to be finished very, very soon (a mammoth 50,000-word report). Basically, I don’t really have time to do both. But the report is well paid and it’s going to pay my taxes at the end of the month.
The point is that this Excel file is what is keeping me sane – and on track – at the minute. Because while I’m having trouble finding time for both jobs, that isn’t even including the freelance work I just can’t seem to say no to. But the odd 2,000 words here and there is really adding up – and taking its toll on my time.
My Excel file tells me how many words I translated that day, how many words I am ahead of or behind schedule so far, how many words I have translated so far, how many words I have left to translate, and how many words I’m going to have to translate on average five days a week if the job is going to be finished on time. As long as this last daily average remains manageable, then everything is fine. Told you it was keeping me sane.
The problem is that I had a kind of a lazy week. I was exhausted on Monday night and decided not to work. Wednesday night (I work evenings, by the way) was spent driving 45 minutes each way through the snow to have a few drinks with people I work for all the time and haven’t seen for five years. (It was also the launch of a novel I have also spent the last couple of months revising for a Swedish friend who also lives in Québec City.) And Thursday was a write-off after my baby slept incredibly badly on Wednesday night.
In short, this hasn’t been my most productive week. The important part is that all the figures in my table are still manageable. I will not have to translate 3,000 words a day for the next month to deliver my translation on time. I am, however, three days behind on my Radisson translation. And, tempting as it is to think I’m going to translate twice as much today and twice as much tomorrow and be almost back on schedule after I take a day off on Monday, you know what? Today is not the day I’m going to turn it all around.
Slow and steady wins the race. My aim is to keep it manageable. Everything is under control. Soon my report will be out of the way and I’ll have more time to concentrate just on the novel on the home stretch. But today is not the day to panic and start being unrealistic. Today is the day to tidy up those other freelance projects I need to send off this weekend and keep treading water, keeping the pace until the home stretch.