A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, right? Today, co-founder Kelsey Browning shows us how to keep organized for better writing.
How many times have you lamented (okay, out and out whined) about the pressure for writers to do it all these days? Writers are one-person enterprises, overseeing production, marketing, finance, strategy and more. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, right?
Even if we added another eight hours to each day, we would still press to accomplish more in the limited time we have. So being organized is essential. Otherwise, you wake up one morning to discover your desk has its own zip code and your to-do list is longer than Santa’s. But by investing an hour a week, you can stay on track with your projects and paperwork. The trick is to make this process a part of your regularly scheduled work, not a maybe-if-I-get-to-it task. Commit and you’ll be happy you did.
Each Friday, I do a Weekly Review, a term I borrowed term from Todd Henry’s book, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. Henry inspired my process, which I began a year and a half ago. And hmm…what’s happened since then? A cross-country move, a cross-country drive, six weeks halfway around the world, homeschooling my son, training a CCI service puppy. Oh yeah, and I signed a four-book deal with Carina Press and began co-writing a series with Nancy Naigle.
So today, I’m sharing with you my seven weekly steps to staying organized.
- File all loose papers in the appropriate place. Even better, handle the task associated with that paperwork. All that flotsam on your desk? Deal with it. Put it in the correct file, binder, precarious pile or whatever.
- Clean out your purse and work bag. Toss receipts you don’t need. Dig out gum wrappers and used tissues. Don’t leave anything in there you don’t need. Also clean out your wallet. This may be painful when you tackle it the first time, but after that, it should take less than five minutes.
- Use a trigger list to empty your head of those random oh-crap-I-forgot-my-parents’-anniversary thoughts. A trigger list is simply a list you look over to see if it “triggers” any to-dos. I found lists online and then customized. Examples of trigger list items include writing projects due, items you’re waiting for, marketing tasks, people to contact, upcoming events, appointments to make and more. I’ve linked to my trigger list so you can use it as a starting point.
- Review upcoming calendar. Review the upcoming two weeks, so things—like writing a blog post due not this Monday but the next—don’t escape you. I use Outlook for my calendar software and print a week on one sheet because to use it to make my daily to-do list.
- Review current projects and to-do list. You may cover some of the same ground as in step four, but I recommend you have an overall plan for each project/book. I use mind maps for this, but a list works well for others. Are you on target? What’s the next step? Are you stalled out because you’re waiting on something?
- Review future projects. You may find you can slot this in every other week or even once a month. But looking at those upcoming projects will help you stay on track and maintain a longer outlook.
- Process notes. This is the most time-consuming part of my process. All my notes, thoughts and randomness goes in one—and only one—spiral. I use this notebook to write my Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron) and jot down blog post ideas, thoughts about my current WIP, household to-dos and everything else I need to remember. I code each type of thought in the margins. Nothing sophisticated—an asterisk for a to-do, BCB for a Brain Candy blog post idea, book name for WIP ideas. During my weekly review, I either take care of the task or transfer those notes to their appropriate place. That may seem like double duty because it means typing up those notes. But this process allows me to keep all my ideas on a certain topic in one place, the right place. As most of my projects have their own Scrivener file, I never dig around for a scrap of paper or lost idea.
By incorporating these seven steps into your weekly schedule, you’ll become a more organized writer and businessperson. Yes, it takes a small time investment up front, but pays dividends in the long run.
Personal Assets – Coming August, 2013!
Sex therapist Allie Shelby has the professional credentials, but she could use a bit more practical experience. Finding the right man to bring out her inner bad girl is tough in a population-challenged Texas town. So when sinfully sexy Cameron Wright rolls back into Shelbyville, Allie wastes no time inviting him to join her in some hands-on research.
Cameron has come home to fulfill his dream of restoring classic cars. Back in high school, he knew the town princess, Allie Shelby, was way out of his league. Today he has even less in common with Allie, so he’s shocked as hell when she propositions him. Still, he’s only human, so he accepts her offer—and with each encounter, she shows him another, wilder side. Before long, he’s thinking about more than just sex.
But while her personal life heats up, Allie’s business is about to crash and burn. And she has to convince Cameron that she’s one princess who’s not looking for a prince to ride to her rescue.
RU crew, do you have a weekly process that helps keep you on track? If so, what tasks do you include?
Join us for author Mae Claire on Wednesday
Bio: Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy. She’s currently at work on the third book in her Shelbyville, Texas, series. Give her a shout at Kelsey@KelseyBrowning.com or drop by www.KelseyBrowning.com.
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