Get a free video course on Writing and Mindset Click hereJoin my author mailing list

Mental load, emotional labor and writing

My top ten time management tips

To celebrate the revised and updated new edition of The Small Steps Guide to Goal Setting and Time Management, I’m sharing my top ten time management techniques, plus some exercises and resources from the book. I’m also giving you some tips on how to apply them to the writing life. I’m officially halfway through my top ten! So far we’ve covered:

  1. How you can’t manage time and what you can do instead.
  2. The Pomodoro technique
  3. Context switching when planning
  4. Hofstadter’s law or the Planning Fallacy
  5. Mental load

To catch up, start here.

Mental load, emotional labor and writing

In this post I’ll look briefly at how to apply the tips I shared on mental load to a writing habit, specifically to help with procrastination, or getting started in the first place. Remember that mental load involves these four things, working together:

  1. The stuff you carry around in your head.
  2. Things or tasks or people that you or others feel you’re responsible for.
  3. Things or tasks or people that you care about.
  4. Because of 2 and 3, you can’t simply ‘put it down’ or forget about it.

In addition, mental load includes thoughts about ’emotional labor’. That is, work done to keep others happy, that’s often invisible.

Practical steps and resources

  1. Firstly, if you find your mental load interfering with your writing session, spend some time freewriting about what’s in your head before you start.
  2. Awareness is key but there may be some actions you can take. So, after you’ve done this a few times, notice whether there are any reoccuring patterns. Is there anything practical you can do? Any small problems you could solve that would lessen the load? Anything you could delegate?
  3. Writing first thing in the morning or last thing at night, or moving to a neutral space, can stop mental load and emotional labor from interfering with our writing. Try it a few times to see if it works for you.
  4. If you find mental load often gets in the way, try Julia Cameron’s morning pages technique or read Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande.

As well as big concerns, mental load can also include easy wins – things you could easily do something about – and small niggly things – annoying stuff that takes up mental space but isn’t a big enough deal for you to take action on. If you sort out the easy wins and the small niggles, it can give you a real sense of freedom. You’ll also gain back some control over your time. If your mental load is stopping you from writing, consider dealing with easy wins and small niggles first. There’s more on this throughout the new editon of the book.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Lou xx

P.S. Here’s the next post in the series – on one of the most powerful goal setting techniques I know about.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.