When Plans Go Astray

ron_minding_head_halfI recently spent over a week at a workshop in Oregon where I heard Kris Rusch talk a little about her September, which she’s blogged about, and which I’ll term as a “month from Hell.” For me, that month has been October.

At the beginning of the month, the plan had been to have four books ready to publish at the end of the month so that I could focus on books #5 and #6 in November and December. It all looked so good on paper. Doable, even.

But, as with all plans, life and other such things have intervened.

Aside: When I was in Corporate America ™ I used to teach project management, and when I was done walking people through the process of making the plan I would tell them “Congratulations! You’ve just scoped out the one way you can guarantee your project is NOT going to happen.” This often caused great consternation and furrowing of brows. Such is life, right?

Anyway, here are a list of things that have caused problems:

  • At one point I was working on as many as four books in one day that were at various stages of development. It turns out that my brain begins to melt at something less than that. So errors were made, and rework commenced.
  • I did not get as much work done at the workshop as I had planned. This was an error on my part. It was farcical to think I was going to create that kind of word count at a learning conference—again, brain melting commenced.
  • Due to life events, my fantastic copy editor was a couple days behind in delivering a book. This wasn’t a problem because I had baked that idea into the schedule (living with your copy editor allows you to do that kind of thing!), but…
  • The copy edits came back deeper than others. Lisa had asked if it was all right to get into line editing. I said, “sounds great!” And it was. Oh, yes, it was great. The work is a billion times better because of it. But it also added a day or two to the work it took to make adjustments, and given that I was doing that at the workshop, too, well. Remember: brain melting. Errors. Rework.
  • Both Lisa and I came back from the workshop with the crud. Lisa was knocked totally out for this entire last week. I’ve been running on semi-fumes. Result: slower work.
  • As can be expected, I came back from the workshop with about a billion new things on my “To Do” list. Some got added to the plan now, others pushed to later. But it means that as my brain was melting, it was also exploding. Call it expelting. Key words here are “audio,” “D2D,” “Marketing concepts,” “revamp business plan,” and other simple things like that.
  • Oh, right, and then, just before we left for Oregon, this site went down. At first it was a “simple” server problem at the host. Eventually (a whole freaking two-weeks later) it finally became obvious that something had hacked out a bunch of my site’s files. It took the greater part of three days to (1) figure that out, and (2) get it back up to the feeble state that it’s at now. In the end, I suppose this is good. I needed to do a total revamp anyway. I just didn’t plan on doing it NOW!
  • Other life things, including the Astronomy Club I’m president of, have taken more time than planned.
  • Did I mention that the Cubs made the World Freaking Series? This is relevant because it means that I MUST watch them. I mean, let’s not even pretend that’s not happening.

I think we’re getting through this.

I hope we’re getting through this.

There are two days left in October, though, and who can say whether this month from Hell is done with us, yet, or not.

Regardless, the good thing about having a plan is that I know exactly where I’m at. I know where I’m really behind in this six-book scrum. I know what I need to prioritize to get the ship aligned. There will be compression of certain events—that’s for sure. But they’ll be things that I control. That was the whole theme of the workshop, after all. Accept Control.

Sometimes life changes around you. In the scheme of things, the challenges Lisa and I faced in October are pretty small fry, you know? No tragedy. No real loss.

All we really need to do is take a deep breath and get the ship back under control.

Then rejigger the plan.

Simple, right?

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  1. John once told me “the only thing you can catch over the phone is anxiety”. After reading your blog I have now updated that to include the internet. You guys sound way too busy.

  2. Hi, Dolores. We probably would be looking pretty good overall if it weren’t for the getting sick part. That’s a week we won’t really get back.

    But, yeah, we’re looking forward to getting the next few days behind us, too.

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