[Creativity Challenges] Why I Just Added a Dry Erase Board to My Amazon Wish List

It all comes down to time management. In fact, most of my professional difficulties can be traced to that annoyingly persistent foe. Time management is, if you will, my arch-enemy. While I am extremely organized by nature, I have a hard time keeping firm control over my writing day. The busier I am, the worse my habits become. In March, I am working on the launch of two new blogs, editing a book and consulting on another, and creating three pieces of short fiction. This is in addition to my regular blogging, ‘zining, and writing commitments. My self-control is a shambles. My desk is, even as I type these words, littered with notes, most of which are scraps of half crossed-off to-do lists. My lovely notebooks, ditto. While it is deeply satisfying to strike lines through finished tasks, having a pile of disordered lists lounging about mocking my intentions does not encourage me to actually do anything. Quite the opposite. Technology is equally sterile when faced with dozens of work assignments. I will ignore every single electronic notification put in place to help me along the path to finishing jobs, and will do so every single time with unchained glee. Technology is only my friend when it is helping me waste time or stay connected with people. Otherwise, it can fly off.

One of many to-do lists.

One of many half-assed to-do lists.

Don’t misunderstand: I love what I do with wildly sparking passion. I am not trying to avoid doing any of it, but am merely seeking to harness my electric mental energy into finishing it in a timely, logical, highly productive fashion. There has to be a better way than fruitlessly juggling so many creative projects for far longer than is necessary.

For a brief, glorious period I thought the answer was a monthly calendar taped to the wall. No, really.

Getting closer.

Getting closer.

I like the in-your-face tactile quality of this method. Another pro? It is a better version of all of those to-do lists. Con? It is small and cramped and I always write my words way too big. It also does not allow for changing my mind or schedule. The ability to add or remove ideas and projects is key, as is room to colour-code things. Verdict? Good idea, but not a winner. Yes, I know that they make large-scale business calendars. No, this won’t work. Which leaves an old-school business tool I’ve used in the past, one thrust on me at a series of boring day jobs. If you read the title of this post, you know where this is going…

A dry-erase board. Very corporate conference room, but incredibly handy and versatile. I can make fat columns with a ruler! Erasing is a breeze! Colour-coding is encouraged! I can add elements with ease! Tracking my diverse projects in one location? Oh, how priceless! Bonus points for being able to draw funny pictures and write inspirational quotes in the margins. Here’s to a more productive 2013!

How do you keep on schedule?

12 thoughts on “[Creativity Challenges] Why I Just Added a Dry Erase Board to My Amazon Wish List

  1. Excellent article, maedez. I read it before tackling my files which are piled up on my desk and printer. However, I do not have the deadlines you do, so life is a little more flexible. This may not help with organization but I have learned to prioritize my life as an artist and writer by learning to say “no” in the kindest possible way to invitations that would encroach on the things that are important to me.

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    • Thank you! I am really organized as a rule and thrive on working on a deadline. My problem is that being my own boss I am in charge of setting most of my deadlines. If the deadline is set externally, I am right on top of things. When I impose a deadline, well, not so much…

      As far as invitations, etc., go…well, I make a point of accepting as many as possible. Why? Because my natural tendency is to hole up in my studio and work all day, every day. Writing, editing, researching, creating. I work mostly from home and, left to my own devices, would rarely leave. So, I go out of my way to be as sociable as possible. I’ve never been happier on that front, and a happy Maedez is a productive Maedez.

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      • I know what you are saying, maedez, about holing up and rarely leaving, so I have to tell myself every once in a while that I must be social and not forget about the world out there.

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    • Technically, I don’t know yet. Whilst I do agree that the gloss wears off of most new methods rather quickly, I have effectively used a dry-erase board in other arenas, for different applications. I know it is a method that has worked in the past, so I have hope.

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  2. I sympathise and even empathise. My writing work has increased over the last two months and I’ve been trying to find a way to keep myself in my own loop. I tried the lists, but they multiplied, cross bred and strew themselves all over the place. I tried the smart schedule table, but had to keep reprinting with each change, several times a day. So I’ve been muddling along and forgetting important things like being at home for the gas delivery yesterday. The DE board sounds like a good plan. And colour coding, I could get caught up in that all day, so I better put it on my new erasable schedule with a time limit 🙂

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    • I like that phrase: keep myself in my own loop. I have OCD and am very organized by nature, but I have been slipping under the weight of so much work. I used dry erase boards at a couple of old day jobs. They really worked for me in those situations. I do not know why I just thought of bringing one into my studio. I need to cross-reference things and my logical little heart loves color-coding. I think it will prove to be a winning solution. Good luck with your own balancing act. I know we can both be successful!

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  3. I am perhaps the most disorganized and forgetful person I know. I have improved over the years to remember lunch dates, husband’s birthday and what my children want most. I feel pulled in many creative and personal directions constantly. The only way my creative life is organized is through a list of published works, so I don’t republish them and a list of submissions, so I don’t submit the same works over and over.

    Lucy, whose friend gave her a magnet with the Nietzche quote “Chaos gives birth to a dancing star,” when she bemoaned her failings in the organization department

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  4. I am a compulsive list person. In fact, I am one of those people who will add something to my list AFTER I’ve done it just so I can cross it off.

    Am very excited for you re: Dry Erase Board, especially the idea of using different colours. This is something I may have to incorporate myself once I move into Henry Miller’s writing studio.

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    • I am, too. Thanks, OCD. You are a pip! I also add things to lists after the fact. It makes my brain happy.

      Haha, I chuckled over that. His studio was pretty amazing. I have so many projects (writing, editing, publishing, blogging, fiction, freelancing) that colour-coding seems the only way to go.

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