Busy work periods…and how to cope with them

I’m one week into an extremely busy work period at the moment, with one major project plus multiple smaller ones meaning I’m working twelve-hour days, seven days a week.  I have these every so often – it’s just the nature of freelancing – and thankfully it’s never more than a few weeks at a time.  Still, a period like this requires some fairly big coping strategies, and these are the ones I’ve developed:

1. Schedule every last minute

The first thing I always do with a major project is sit down and plot out a schedule for the work up to the deadline, so that I know exactly what will get done when – if I don’t have an idea of this, I find it very stressful.  Sometimes this means that if things take longer than expected, I have to work a bit longer on that particular day, but having plotted everything out means that this is kept to a minimum.

2. Book in some non-negotiable non-work time

By ‘non-negotiable’, I mean things that I can’t back out of.  For this particular project, the busy period happens to coincide with my ongoing mission on this blog to review one Now! compilation a day leading up to 20th July; each review takes me a couple of hours, due to the length of the compilations, so that’s time that I absolutely have to spend doing non-work stuff.  During my last busy work period, which was in October to November, I had NaNoWriMo going on during the latter part, so I had a commitment every day to spend a couple of hours writing fiction.  Writing is nice and relaxing for me, but a less ‘thinky’ non-negotiable thing might be meeting up with friends, such as for the birthday afternoon tea I’m going to in a couple of weeks’ time, or some ‘me time’, such as the vintage fair I’m going to on Sunday (my first vintage fair trip since the house move!  I can’t wait!), or a scheduled class that I pay for every week, such as Slimming World or my Pilates class.  I’m also having to make running a non-negotiable during this particular busy work period, otherwise I’ll struggle with the Sunderland 10k in a few weeks’ time!

3. Postpone all non-essentials

When I’m working twelve-hour work days, other than sleeping, eating and keeping myself clean and presentable, I only have time for work and the scheduled non-negotiables I described above.  Everything else gets shunted to ‘afterwards’.  This generally includes cleaning the house, catching up with TV and the music charts, and, for this particular period, the ongoing project of sorting out the new house.  It just means I will be doing all that stuff with a renewed appreciation when the work period is over!

4. Book in cooking and sleeping time

During a busy work period, looking after myself often takes a back seat.  It’s simply not possible to get as much sleep as I usually would, as I have to be up at the crack of dawn every day to start work, but I make sure I’m at least getting six hours a night.  Similarly, I need to schedule my food preparation time, otherwise I’ll end up just grabbing something unhealthy and feeling worse for it.

These periods are always a bit of a slog, but they are manageable.  Obviously it would be nice if they’d balance out a bit better with the weeks where I don’t have any work at all, but the benefits of being a freelancer are absolutely worth it for me!

Modern pop music

At the start of 2010, with my interest piqued by the 2009 Christmas number one race between Joe McElderry and Rage Against The Machine, I decided that for the entirety of the 2010s, I would follow what was happening in the UK music chart, no matter how terrible the music was.  I’ve always liked the way that pop culture nostalgia can be packaged neatly into decades, and I thought it would be cool to follow the evolution of one from start to finish.

Though I’m a list obsessive and had loved following the chart as a kid in the ’90s (the tail end of that happy period in UK pop music that roughly ended with the demise of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops), I’d lost interest during the ’00s, largely because I was Too Busy Being Goth.  I was roughly aware that some of the more pop-punk and emo stuff that was featured in the rock magazines I read was in the charts around mid-decade, but I didn’t really have any idea of what was going on in pop music at all, other than what people were dancing to on Strictly.*

Eight years in, it’s been interesting, and catching up with the chart has become such an ingrained weekly habit that I expect I’ll keep doing it into the ’20s and beyond.  90% of 2010s chart music, IMO, is awful, but there has been some stuff I like – the more electro-pop direction of the early part of the decade was good, as was the brief folk-rock trend.  Unfortunately the quality seems to have dipped a bit in the last couple of years and at the moment it all seems to be uninspiring EDM, offensively bad sampling of classic ’90s dance, bland forgettable pop-by-numbers and Ed Sheeran ballads.  I can’t remember the last time there was an actual rock song in the charts.

Some stats, ’cause I like stats:

I’ve liked 250 songs from the 2010s enough to add them to my Spotify playlist.

  • 42 from 2010
  • 49 from 2011
  • 26 from 2012
  • 33 from 2013
  • 27 from 2014
  • 20 from 2015
  • 20 from 2016
  • 32 from 2017
  • 1 from 2018 (so far).

My 2010s playlist does get a look-in when I’m in a more dance-y/upbeat mood, but obviously it doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of airtime my 1980s playlist gets.  Nothing beats the ’80s for me as far as pop songs (and, let’s face it, most things) are concerned.

* I’ve never been Too Busy Being Goth to watch Strictly.