On Admitting Defeat and Prioritizing

I have a confession to make. I am really, really good at hatching ideas and starting projects, but I am only mediocre at seeing them through to completion. This is most evident in areas of my life that have little to no impact on anyone other than myself (I’m looking at you, all my half-finished knitting projects!), because I have made a conscious effort to learn tools and strategies to overcome this affliction in my professional life.

Sometimes, though….

When do you admit defeat? Photo credit: Richard Stebbing via Flicker

When do you admit defeat? Photo credit: Richard Stebbing via Flickr

My freelancing career changed drastically at the beginning of March. I accepted a full-time job (which some of you may have figured out if you follow me on Twitter), and I am loving it! However, it does mean less time for freelance projects, so I’ve had to prioritize which gigs to keep and which should be scaled back. I selfishly tried to continue with regular Tuesday Top Ten posts on this site, but then one week I slipped up and posted on Thursday. The next week, I had the links all lined up to write the post, failed to get it written by Tuesday, Tweeted that I’d post it, then… radio silence. This has continued for the better part of a month, all the while with me thinking, “Hm, I really should write something about this on the blog/get back to the schedule/do something about these posts.” A worrier and self-disciplinarian, the guilt from not progressing in this project, for which I was initially SO EXCITED began to hang over me like a cloud.

This is when I made an executive decision to use one of the tools I have learned to deal with flailing projects: know your limits and when to exit. Does that sound like a weird “tool” to use? It definitely did to me, at first, but the key words here are know your limits. We all have them! It’s ok! It’s better to make a decision than to keep a project hanging in limbo forever. Sometimes (most of the time) the decision can be to just hurry up and finish a project, or to scale back the frequency of your time commitment to a manageable level, but once in a while, if you’re honest with yourself, the benefits of a project do not outweigh the cost, even with one of those mitigation strategies.

So, with apologies to anyone who loved the Tuesday Top Ten posts, I will no longer continue to share links in that fashion. I will continue to share interesting links via Twitter, so if you enjoyed the posts, be sure to follow me. I don’t feel guilty about this decision, because the new freelance projects that have cropped up to take its place are pretty darn awesome, and in the grand scheme of things, I have to use the time I have available to make good decisions that will help me reach my freelance goals (note to self: write a post about freelance goal setting).

How do you prioritize projects? Have you ever had to implement an “exit strategy?” I’m curious to hear how others deal with the stress of being over-committed.


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