What to do when you bite off more than you can chew

A rottweiler puppy biting a huge stickYou agreed to take the project a month ago. It was delayed, but you consented to the new timeline, even though it pushes into a weekend. When the file arrives, that weekend turns out to be possessed by demons intent on your undoing.

Your car has been doing this funny lurching thing for a while now, and it quits on your way home from the grocery store. When you finally get home with your ruined milk, you discover that your little furry one got into the kitchen trash and redecorated your bedroom in sticky, stinky booty. An hour of chaos control later, when you’re just about to sit down to work, the doorbell rings. Your out-of-town parents decided to surprise you with a visit! Oh, joy.

While you listen to tales of the road and updates about every living soul from your hometown, you’re thinking: The project’s not due back until Monday morning; once everyone’s in bed, I’ll have quiet time to work. You’re determined to keep your commitment to the project despite the apparent unraveling of your universe.

Because you said you would. Right? You can’t let the team down. Right? Diving into the project will be a welcome distraction from all the other chaos. Right?

Wrong.

Life is unpredictable. We get it. Sometimes, it gets beyond our control. Knowing when to say “when” is an admirable quality. (Wait. What?! That’s quitter talk!)

No, it’s not. It’s considerate. And it’s the right thing to do.

If circumstances have conspired to such a degree that your noggin is spinning on your necktop, then you are not going to be able to focus on the writing or editing project in front of you. Your best intentions will undoubtedly be upended by distraction, frustration, and fatigue. And if you’re phoning it in, your teammates will likely have to spend time cleaning up your work afterward. Worse, if half-hearted work makes it out the door unchecked, it could mean losing the trust of one of our customers. Or losing the customer altogether.

You’d be kinder to release the project to another editor or writer. Kinder to the project, kinder to our relationship with the client, and kinder to yourself. 

So that one weird time you find yourself unable to finish a project you agreed to do, call me. Or if you’re a writer, call Sam. And if you’re a designer, call Lex. I promise we’ll understand.

This post was written by Magi Walker, the editorial manager at Dragonfly Editorial.

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