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.
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.
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?