Panic Management

My life is about to go into overdrive. In the month of March alone, I have four high school visits, two bookstore events, and a library event – each of which requires preparation and promotion. This, of course, is on top of my regular teaching jobs, my push to finish the first draft of my novel, my duties as YA Expert Guide for the CBI Clubhouse website, and preparation for the big SCBWI WA conference in April. All I can say is…yikes!

Every time I look ahead in my calendar, I go into stress mode. My heart rate revs, and I break out in a sweat. I’ve always been a good time manager, so that isn’t really the issue. What I need right now is a plan for panic management.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: First, I will avoid thinking too far ahead. I’m aware of all the things I need to get done, and I know the dates I need to complete them by. So I can let go of anxiety about things that are set to happen in April and instead focus on preparing for the first event in my queue, which in this case is a presentation at my stepson’s high school. I seem to breathe easier if I can work on one thing at a time instead of trying to have my fingers in every pie.

Second, I will streamline. Much as I’d like to create a custom presentation for each high school I visit, I simply don’t have the time. So I’ll come up with a general presentation that I can use multiple times. Along the same lines, if a speaking engagement doesn’t absolutely require handouts, I’ll do without them. Under normal circumstances, I’d give every gig my all. But right now, that’s just not possible.

Third, I’ll give myself breaks. Tempting as it is to try to work twelve hour days, seven days a week, I know my constitution can’t handle it. So in spite of the craziness, I’ll make time for exercise, dinner with my husband, and the occasional trash-TV binge.

Last of all, I’ll borrow Steven’s motto: “Sometimes I can do my best. Other times, my best will have to do.”

What do you do to fend off panic when life gets overwhelming?

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