Oct 1, 2011

The To Do List

I was just catching up on some fun client blog reading, when I came across this post by Lynne Kelly on her blog Making Stuff Up and Writing It Down.

If you have trouble with organization in this crazy ride we call life, Lynne offers some sage advice.  She also links to some other posts that can be helpful.

The thing is, most people need some type of system, right?  I think it's safe to say that a majority of writers have another job of some kind to make enough money to, ya know, live. So writing is a second job. Add family, friends, hobbies, etc...and that's a lot to keep track of!

For me (granted, I'm not a writer, but I work with writers so I've usually got projects on the brain), I have many, many lists. I have a list for every day of the week. Then I have a To Do Soon list (for things that don't need to be done on a specific day, but should be done in the next few weeks), a To Do Later list (for those lower priority things that I want to look into/get done, but don't need to be done in the next month), and one separate list I have is for contracts alone. I wouldn't be able to keep track of what stage each contract is at without it. Also, if I'm working on a particularly big project, I'll make a list just for that. I check all of these lists every day to make sure there's not something I'm missing.

And of course I have my submission lists that I check weekly.

Finally, I use my work calendar. I have lists on there, too, of things I need to follow up on by a specific date. And my calendar emails me reminders the day before because he is awesome (yes, I've decided that my calendar is a dude).

It sounds like a lot, but once the system is in place, it's just a matter of adding and deleting things daily since all of this is on my computer. And I do this so I don't miss something vital.  Even with all of these lists, every once in awhile things slip through the cracks. But not often--thank goodness!

So what's your secret?? How do YOU keep track of it all?


Lyla said...

Yay for organizational systems! I would DIE without my planner and my post-it notes. They keep me sane and help me keep track of things to do.

And LOL at your calendar being a he. I think my planner is a she...I mean, it has a picture of a girl on it so I'll just call it a she.

Tiffany Garner said...

I can definitely relate to this. I'm a full time college student, working two part-time jobs, and writing in all my extra time (which isn't much ;p). So every Sunday I sit down and plan out my week, setting aside time to write and time to spend time with friends. It may just be an hour or so here or there, but it gets done :)

Lynne Kelly said...

Oh, THAT'S why I had so many more views on the blog all of a sudden!

Thanks for linking to the post, Jo! So glad I came across the post that mentioned Remember the Milk-- I'm using it every day & it's helping me keep track of things without getting overwhelmed.

Paula @ListProducer said...

I think it's a great idea to have a system. I really like your idea of using a "To Do Soon" list -- that really helps to keep things in perspective!

If it wasn't for lists -- I wouldn't be able to do most of the things I do!

Brooks said...

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Maeve Frazier said...

I love lists. Can't get by without them. Great post.

Krysten Hill said...

Well, in my personal life, I don't have much to organize, so lists wouldn't help much.

Though, with my writings, I do have A LOT of lists. Character lists, World lists, City lists, Plot/Event lists, etc. I think every author should have lists like that, it really helps me keep things straight and consistent. Which is always good.

Great post though! Really good insight into the world of agents!

Matthew MacNish said...

This is the biggest thing that scares me about being an aspiring novelist. I know I can write, that's the easy part, but it takes me a while to write a book and I worry that if I ever get published I won't be organized enough, or professional enough to maintain any kind of momentum.

I do have a day job, and I raise my family, and try to exercise and all that other good stuff, but I can't imagine finding the time to meet deadlines with my writing without quitting my 50 hour a week job.

I guess I have to get more organized. Great, advice, thanks Joanna. I'm off to read this blog.

Annie said...

I use filemaker pro, create super simple databases. One is for queries, others are for ideas & books I write. Then each time I send in a query I have a container field with a copy of the letter and fields to track every aspects including URL & specs on submission. I can then write a report and query what was sent when and feedback/comments if any. I can look for patterns and improve my writing and queries that way.