Your first step to organizing your entire life this year is to invest in a good quality day planner.
A day planner is different from a diary, a calendar, or a notebook.
The trouble for most writers is that they have multiple organizational systems in place. If you're using a calendar in conjunction with a desk diary, notebooks, sticky notes, notes on your phone, and more... then guess what? You're using too many systems, and likely creating overlap. This means wasted time, and the chance for information to get lost.
It's essential to have some sort of centralized system for your planning. For my writing, I use Scrivener. This is a great way to organise your plot outline, chapter notes, research, character profiles and more, in the same place as your actual manuscript. We've discussed the benefits of Scrivener here, so I won't repeat that information. Suffice it to say that if you don't yet have it - make it your New Year's duty to get your hot little writer's hands on this software, stat.
But the organized writer should also have a centralized system to track their daily life - their goals, to-do lists, daily schedule, appointments, word counts, writing (and other) expenses, and notes. Most standard desk diaries can't deal with all these things simultaneously without ending up in a confusing, inefficient, scrawled mess.
I may be speaking from experience.
I recently discovered the FranklinCovey day planner and believe it has all the elements necessary to help the most chaotic writer streamline and organize their time. I'm no sales rep for this company - I just like the product and believe it's worth recommending.
Here's an image of what you'll find inside. Each calendar day has an appointment schedule, a separate Prioritized Daily Task List, a Daily Tracker (where you can track things like word count, exercise, calories... whatever is pertinent and helpful to your daily goals) and a large page for daily notes.
The system includes monthly and weekly overviews, so you can set goals for the month and then break them down into weekly and daily actions.
You can also personalize your planner with a variety of additional forms and inserts.
There's a dedicated goal planning form:
I'm excited about the potential to have everything in one place. As a busy mum of three small kids, I need to be able to plan several things simultaneously - writing and blogging schedules, activities I've planned for my kids, and daily appointments. Last year I used two different diary systems to try to co-ordinate the different aspects of my life, and needless to say, this approach was not a rousing success.
Here's to consolidating, streamlining and organizing ourselves for a fresh New Year.
If you're interested, you can find the FranklinCovey day planner system here (US site) or here (Australian site.)
Do you use a day planner? What other tried-and-true organization methods do you swear by? What steps would you like to take to organize yourself for this new year?
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