When you think of the new year, you think of new calendars, fresh plans to conquer bad habits and start new ones, and a whole twelve months laid out before you with no mistakes. Lynne Silver is a chapter sister of mine from the Washington Romance Writers and she always seems to have her act together as she juggles writing, motherhood and marriage. Well, now I know why . . . .
( Note: If you want to see a bigger version of the spreadsheets, just click on them and they will open in another window)
It’s a new year, and I’m guessing more than one of you made a resolution to be better organized in 2013. Am I right? Organization is a daily challenge for me. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I suffer from Executive Dysfunction, a fancy modern term for being disorganized.
How do I cope? I create lists, and not just scrawled lists on the numerous scratch pads on every surface of my house, but on spreadsheets. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT a true technical person. That’s right, I can think of loads of other people who know more about Excel than I do. But for what I need to get my life organized, a simple spreadsheet goes a long way.
I use spreadsheets for everything from keeping track of royalty statements to my weekly meal plan.
Not only does this spreadsheet help me keep my grocery costs lower, it stops the 6:00 blank stare into the pantry. I know exactly what’s for dinner. Bonus, my husband does 90% of the grocery shopping, because he knows what to buy. Including the family activities also helps me plan. I know if basketball practice is on Wednesday night AND my husband is out of town, I’m not making a fancy dinner that night. Frozen pizza it is.
Setting up the spreadsheet
The first thing to do before creating a spreadsheet is to decide what information you want to organize and how you might want to sort it eventually. There’s a cool little geek term called GIGO when it comes to spreadsheets and databases. It means Garbage In, Garbage Out. The better you set up and organize your spreadsheet, the better it will serve you later.
For example, I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve seen a spreadsheet with loads of data in one cell. This drives me crazy. It means you can’t sort. When making a spreadsheet, each cell should be one data point. Let me repeat that. ONE CELL = ONE DATA POINT!
To illustrate my point, see the spreadsheet below. I created a master Excel spreadsheet for each blog tour I do. I divide each tab up by my book titles. A tab is just what it sounds like.
Then, for each book, I can create a spreadsheet of possible guest blogs and promotional dates. It helps keep me organized of where I’m supposed to be and when.
By creating a heading for each bit of information, I can sort by date of the post. I can also see if I need to follow up with someone who hasn’t returned my request. I created a similar spreadsheet when I was querying agents & editors. I was able to keep track of the status of all my queries.
A few months back, I got together with a group of writers to form a motivational writers group. We wanted to ramp up our productivity, and I created a spreadsheet to help keep us on track. Thanks to Google docs, we were all able to open the same spreadsheet and update it ourselves. We could also see our word counts add up quickly, due to an easy formula that adds columns of information.
Some of the authors wanted to track additional information such as time spent writing or pages versus sheer word count. The spreadsheet made it easy to do, but you’ll notice I created additional columns for that information. If the others had simply put all the data into one cell, we would not have been able to add up our totals so easily to see that Candy seriously kicked butt. (If the math looks off, it’s because I had to hide some rows in order to get a good screen shot)
Happy New Year!
What do you do to keep yourself organized? Have you tried methods before that didn’t work and why?
On Monday, Adam Firestone will be with us. Don’t miss it!
When genetically enhanced soldier Ryan Lopez learns his beloved wife Thea has betrayed his team by going to the news media and spilling Program secrets, he takes responsibility for her punishment the only way he knows how—seducing her until she’s begging for release. But the more he takes control of her body, the more he tests both their limits, and realizes he’s never fully understood his wife’s dark desires. It will take every bit of Ryan’s enhanced strength to prove to them both that the woman he loves is also his conquered match.
By day, Lynne Silver lives the suburban soccer mom life; volunteering with the PTA, doing laundry and working. By night she enters the sensuous world of alpha males and passionate heroines.
She calls the nation’s capital home and lives in an old fixer-upper with her husband and their two sons. When not writing romance, she reads it. Lots of it. Over and over and over again, preferably with a bag of M&Ms in hand. She is represented by literary agent, Jessica Alvarez of Bookends LLC http://bookends-inc.com/index.htm
- Weekly Lecture Schedule January 14-18, 2013
- The Writing Life – Finding Healthy Balance
- Weekly Lecture Schedule: Mon., March 3 – Sat., March 8
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for February 27 – March 2, 2012
- Back-to-Back Book Releases