Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough of the things I should be doing — even though I’m already, by some standards, doing too much.
Okay, that was a lie. I feel this way all the time.
Or, at least, I did. Until I learned an important lesson about priorities.
There’s something about creativity that just makes a lot of us want to do all the things, all the time, because it feels good. Start a blog? Sweet! Make music? Yes! Sell stuff on Etsy because everybody’s doing it and it’s fun and also $$$$? SIGN. ME. UP.
I don’t know about you. But I just love making things.
Which is awesome and also terrible. Because a lot of us feel this urgent need to always be doing something. Always writing, always drawing, always sketching out new ideas in our heads to save for the imaginary moment when we don’t have anything else to do.
Sometimes, you might feel like you need to be more productive. As if the things you’re doing somehow aren’t enough.
But maybe that’s not the problem.
Maybe your problem is that, even though there are a lot of things you want to do, that doesn’t mean you have to focus your attention on all of them at once — or at all.
I have so many ideas for books and programs and coffee mugs with inspirational writing advice printed on them (yeah …). But I don’t need to actually make all of these things right now.
Would I technically be more productive if I did? Of course.
But then I’d have to pull my attention away from more important things. Like my job, and my Star Wars freelancing gigs, and this blog.
I’ve wasted a lot of time before. And trust me, it’s not in your future writing career’s best interest.
Don’t spend valuable hours working on projects that aren’t worth your time.
Shake off your FOMO. Put your full-time job first (whether that’s school, a nine-to-five, taking care of your family — whatever your full-time gig, embrace it) and your personal writing time second — but not last. And most importantly, ask yourself if what you’re spending the most time on — or should be, if you’re procrastinating — is really worth the seemingly endless stress.
If it is, then find a way to balance out that stress with self-care and a little guilt-free fun.
And if it isn’t … let it go. Find something better. Or don’t try to fill in that space with something new. It’s OK to work hard, but don’t work hard every waking hour of your day. Don’t always say yes to things because they’re offered to you. Focus on what really matters, the projects that are going to fulfill you and drive you forward. In the end, you’ll be glad you didn’t spend all your energy on things that didn’t really count.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.