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It’s gray and rainy here in Paris today, which is actually kind of awesome because it enables me to refrain from feeling guilty that I’m sitting here at the computer, again, rather than being out in the streets wearing fabulous scarves and shopping in open-air markets.

On the other hand, the rain isn’t doing great things for my morale. And my morale is already suffering a bit today, under the weight of my to-do list. The good news is that all of these to-dos are my very own projects — nothing handed me via email (and yes, as of 11.23 am CET, the inbox remains empty), nothing that I owe anyone else. But the problem is that I’ve got three major projects that I want to be working on, and I’m not doing a fabulous job of dividing my time among them.

The morale problem comes from two different directions: on the one hand, my sense of the summer zipping by, and my fear that, come August 15, when I really must turn my attention back to stuff-for-others, I won’t have completed any of the three, but will instead have managed dribs and drabs on each. And, on the other hand, the tyranny of the empty window: for two of these projects, the next thing I need to do is write, and I’m having no small difficulty getting started.

I’m curious what your strategies for getting out of such cul-de-sacs are. The getting-started-writing problem is one I’ve encountered repeatedly, and the best way I know to handle it is simply the head-against-the-brick-wall mode of setting a timer each morning and doing nothing but staring at that document, putting down whatever crap sentences one can manage. Usually the first two days of that regime are excruciating, but by about the third, something starts to break loose, and the head-banging turns into actual writing.

But I don’t have good strategies for the multiple-projects problem. When you really need to be working on two things at once, how do you divide your focus? Two separate timers, with two separate writing windows, each banged against each day? Or two timers, two windows, but only in sequence — full attention given to one until it’s complete, and then full attention to the other?



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