Grading in IEPs

Bird by Bird is book about writing by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott.  In it, Lamott tells a story that has resonated with me when I think about grading.

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
— Anne Lamott
Flickr User: moosejaw2

Flickr User: moosejaw2

As I've been reading more about writing, I'm finding advice that is useful to the dreaded task of grading.  Turns out, teachers and writers have a good deal in common: they need to carve out time to do their work.  I know that as a teacher, it's critical that I monitor student progress by providing timely feedback and grading, but it can feel incredibly tedious and mechanical.  As a more creative person who eschews schedules and routine, it can be challenging for me to keep up with all of the work that my students submit.  It's easy to procrastinate on grading, and then as the papers continue to pile up, it can seem overwhelming to dive into the mess.  Although taking it "bird by bird" is useful, another quip that seems even more relevant is:

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
— Mary Heaton Vorse

That's it. I think this will be my secret to grading.  I'll just sit down. And, when I sit down, I'll sit down to do it. I will apply the seat of my pants to the seat of the chair and I will grade.  I'll set a time, keep myself from distractions, stay uncomfortable, and aim to do it  It's important, and I'll feel so much better knowing that I have a handle on it.

How do you stay on top of grading?  Any tips or tricks?  I'd love to hear them!