Buoy Up: Plan Ahead For When You Know You’ll Be Stuck

by Randy Murray on October 17, 2013

On a ship if you drop your anchor the cable or chain that connects it to the ship can drag across the bottom and get get snagged or damaged. To prevent this from happening the proper thing to do is to attach a buoy, a flotation device, to the cable and to raise it a bit off the bottom.

It’s a sensible thing to do. Sailors know to do this in advance. They know when the cable is likely do drag or become fouled on the bottom, making it difficult or impossible to raise the anchor.

We use that same term, “buoy up,” to describe something that lifts our spirits, just as sailors buoy up a anchor cable. When I hear it used it’s typically about something that happens after someone is sad or stuck. But the prepared and experienced can buoy themselves up in anticipation. It’s a smart, sensible way to work.

As a writer, a freelancer, I know when the difficult parts of my job will happen. I know when it will be hard to get a client to respond to my queries. I know when they’ll be slow to review my submitted drafts. And I know at times they’ll decide to chuck the entire work and want to start over.

I know these things and I’m not surprised by them. I buoy myself up in advance. I schedule more than one project at a time when I can. I look at my schedule in advance and plan for the delays and bottlenecks. I write agreements that help clients to know that there will be extra costs when the project scope changes. I’m an old salt and know that I have to set the buoys to avoid the snags and hidden traps.

I can’t anticipate everything and I try not to let the vagaries of freelance life get me down. I buoy myself up before that happens. And when the time comes, I haul in the anchor with ease and sail on.

The Buoy Up: Plan Ahead For When You Know You’ll Be Stuck by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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