in it for the long haul.

Wow, what a week. If you could see me right now, I’d probably be doing a happy dance. Or sleeping. Either way, I would be celebrating the end of what feels like one of the craziest five-day stretches of the last few months. I have even more to celebrate today because we are heading home to Pennsylvania this afternoon for my sister’s high school graduation tonight… and I have another sister turning sixteen and getting her driving learner’s permit tomorrow. Life never stands still over here, and it couldn’t be more fun.

Lately, the whole rhythm of my work has been a little bit different, because I’ve been spending a lot of time on longer-term projects. Typically, I write a few articles on a shorter turnaround every week, with a handful of “bigger picture” pieces that I’m brainstorming, researching, and drafting simultaneously at any given time. I’m also always trying to grab time here and there to work on writing my book, which, as you all know, I accomplish to (seriously) varying levels of success.

These days, I’ve had to shift my focus a bit, because I’m also tackling a massive copyediting project. For a variety of reasons, the timeline went into overdrive a few weeks ago, and I’ve really had to pick up the pace so I can meet the deadline. In order to make that happen, I’ve had to shuffle my other priorities and put other things on the back burner. At the same time, I’m working hard at being more disciplined with my book writing process, which is a majorly long-term project in itself. Basically, the whole tone of my work has changed over the last few weeks, and it’s been an adjustment.

When I was working in corporate America, I worked almost entirely on a long-term project basis, so I’ve been trying to dust off some of those handy skills. One thing I’ve been missing as part of that process, though, is the teamwork element. When you’re working on the same thing day after day, only slowly chipping away at something that feels totally overwhelming, it’s nice to have a group of people around to help motivate you. Doing it on my own, I find that I’ve needed to put some systems in place that can keep me focused and visually remind me of the progress I’m making.

I’ve always loved the feeling of checking things off lists, and my experience working in sales has given me a forever fondness for what we used to lovingly refer to as “grids.” I’m bringing the grid concept into some of the long-term work I’ve been doing lately, and it’s been really helpful, especially since I’m more or less operating in a vacuum!

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I’ve been tracking my progress on the copyediting process chapter-by-chapter since the beginning, but it’s really been keeping me motivated in this last stretch. (For those of you who are fans of The Office and Parks and Rec, I also like to think that Michael Scott and Leslie Knope would be proud of this whiteboard action. Didn’t they both use “thermometer-style” drawings to keep track of things over the years?) I love the way it feels to fill in each block — so much that I think I may even be sad when it’s finished and there’s nothing left to fill in! (That might be an exaggeration, but, you know what I’m saying…)

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This week, I expanded this tool to help me stay on point with working on my book. As you may remember from my latest goals recap, I’m trying to work toward setting aside a few hours, two to three days week to do this (instead of a few minutes every day, which was sort of overwhelming me). I started creating these little time trackers and taping them into my Passion Planner, and I’ve already seen a major difference in just a week! (I know, I’m a total nerd. When I was in high school, I was the girl who carried a pad of graph paper and a pair of scissors to math class so that I could draw perfect graphs and tape them into my notebooks. Yeesh.)

Working on these bigger-scale projects all on my own has definitely been a challenge over the last few weeks, but I do feel like it’s been a good opportunity for me to figure out some new ways of managing this whole work-from-home thing. I’m definitely excited to keep up with my new time tracking habit when it comes to working on my book, and I have high hopes that it will help me pick up the momentum that I’ve so desperately needed.

How do you manage bigger-picture projects at work and home? I’d love to read your tips in the comments below!

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