When Bad Things Happen to Good Days

It's happened to you before.

You're ready for a productive week. You’ve reviewed your goals, set up your tasks, and know exactly what you need to do. You know how much you need to write in order to complete several profitable projects you have lined up.

All is right with the world.

Suddenly, the silence of your writing paradise is shattered by the piercing sound of the telephone. It’s not a welcomed call. It could be anything from news that a family member is now terminally ill, someone is in the hospital, or worse, maybe someone you love or care about has passed away.

Bob Sands here again with Day Four of The Writer’s Life. All week, we have been looking at “No Bull” Productivity Tips for the New Year. So what happens when life turns you inside out and your business upside down?

Juggling your writing in the midst of a personal or family crisis is difficult at best.

Here are some suggestions for getting back on the productivity track when "life happens."

First, pause. In the midst of personal crisis, many people try to “tough it out” and “work through” projects. It's important to take a little bit of time to assess where you are and determine what’s next. Taking time to collect yourself can keep you from making mistakes.

Second, get some help. I have several other writers I could call on at a moment’s notice, and have them take over a project if I were unable to complete it. Once you make that determination, dovetail anything you can to someone else. Your clients will appreciate the effort and your mental well-being will welcome the relief.

Third, put together a plan before a crisis hits. In modern terms, it is called “Business Continuity Planning.” How will business continue in the wake of a disaster, either natural or personal? Know what you're going to do before you have to do it.

Fourth, keep lines of communication open. Most clients are understanding in the wake of a personal tragedy or natural disaster. Don't try to ignore them and don't assume they know what's going on.

Communicate as clearly and distinctly as possible, but keep the emotion and drama out of it. If you're not going to make a deadline, tell them so and request an extension. Most will grant it because they would like that same courtesy extended to them if they were in similar circumstances.

We all will face a bad day at some point, and sometimes those bad days can be worse than others. Now when “life happens,” you can at least keep the wheels spinning.

How did you get back on track when you’ve faced difficulty? Let me know in the comment section here.

And, join me tomorrow for my final installment of “No Bull” Productivity Tips as we talk about why pain is the best motivation.

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Published: January 24, 2013

5 Responses to “When Bad Things Happen to Good Days”

  1. It took me a long time to get back on track after a personal tragedy, and I did not handle it well. Thank you for this article, Bob. I'm keeping it - and know it will help others.

    JudyB-RaleighJanuary 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm

  2. Interesting timing for this article and good advice. We had a family emergency just last week that sent my 7-year-old to the ER. (You can read about it on my blog)

    While it (lightly) affected some project deadlines, my clients were understanding when I communicated the situation.

    And yes, build relationships with trusted writers to share workload if needed! Bootcamp or PWA are good places to meet them.

    Guest (Steve Coombes)January 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

  3. Great thoughts. I know a guy i could call to take over for me if necessary but never asked if he would be up for this (I'm sure he would be). I'm going to set that up, and di the same for him.

    Guest (Lisa Rothstein)January 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm

  4. When bad things happened during good times that I couldn't figure out... I would talk to my closest friends. This way I could cry on the shoulders I trust and get some insight on my situation.
    After awhile of getting things back to normal, I would write about in my journal.

    Guest (Joyce)January 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm

  5. My father was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. I was working on launching my online support revolution which came to a screeching halt. My priorities shifted and while we are faced with my fathers ongoing treatment I am taking some online courses and posting some of our struggles on my blog. F

    Guest (jennifer montoyq)January 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm


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