Drowning in Work: The Danger of Overcommitting

It's funny how one moment you can be bored out of your mind, and the next minute you can be drowning in work. Such is typical of freelancers but for young editors it can become a problem.

When you're young, you want to get your hands on anything and everything. Sometimes, this can lead to biting off more than you can chew. Understanding how much work you're capable of actually completing within a time frame is a skill that can't really be taught, so it usually ends up being a lesson learned when you've realized you might be screwed.

I took on a freelance project last winter that consisted of several steps and lots of deliverables. The project itself was very simple, yet tedious. I said I would complete it in a certain time frame, but I wanted to finish it early to make a good impression.

That was not a good idea.

First, the project's scope was a little bigger than I had originally thought. I had to prepare some assets that required me to have a little knowledge on the subject at hand, so the learning curve threw me.

Then I was trying to manage all these deliverables with several stages of the project, and I had a difficult time developing a workflow and keeping track of everything. I spent a lot of late nights trying to keep everything in check and moving forward. I came in ahead of schedule after a lot of frustration and anxiety. But then I had 4 more projects exactly like this to do. Yikes.

This project has been on-going for a nearly 12 months now, only wrapping up this week. Finally. I think that goes to show you that a project can really stick around and be the bane of your existence a lot longer than you expect.

Figure out what you're capable of doing, and be realistic about it. It's much better to be honest about when a project will be complete, both for you and the client. You're a happier editor, and your client knows they can always trust you.