Fall is a busy time for the Restless Writers. This is when we set our writing goals for the year, and get back into the swing of our meetings post-summer hiatus. We’re writing and tweeting and Facebooking with abandon. Two of us are preparing for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, and one is also trying to maintain some semblance of a personal life (way to go, Lori!).
Sounds like a lot, right? I for one am feeling a bit frazzled.
I am a natural multi-tasker. Worker-bee by day, writer and indexer by night; full-time wife, aunt, and friend; and caretaker of three demanding cats, I’m a busy gal. Like most women I know.
In general, women are better multi-taskers than men. Yes, I’m gonna throw it out there. I’m not necessarily saying that women are naturally better equipped to handle more than one task at a time—I’ll leave that to biologists and neurologists to make that argument—but somehow women have gotten pretty good at it.
The men I know have the ability to focus on one task at a time, work on it until it’s done, and then get started on something else—piles of laundry, ringing telephones, and deteriorating manicures be damned! I’m envious of this ability. I can almost understand why some young women turn to ill-gotten prescription drugs to finish the items on their to-do lists. (No, no, I kid! I can barely swallow an Advil.)
Busy as I am, I continue to accept new projects and develop new ideas every day. So what’s going to help me hunker down and work with the focus of a man? I’m giving my two main organizational tools a makeover:
Old: The To-Do List – Ah yes, that seemingly helpful list of things that you have to do, today, this week, this month. A to-do list is a mind-numbing, never-ending and self-created abyss of worry and guilt. Toss it.
New: The Get-‘Er-Done List – If I know I only have three hours one day for my projects, I have some idea of what I can get done. My list for today would be 1) write and post a new blog post (check!), 2) edit my latest short story, and 3) find five markets to submit the story to next week. A total of three things that I can achieve in three hours.
Old: Editable Calendar – I did try this. I got one of those big editable whiteboard calendars and installed it in my home office. But moving those little stickers around and re-writing my notes reminded me of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and co. come across a room-full of Nazis in a castle who are planning their conquest on a map of Europe. *shudder* Not really my style.
New: Mobile Calendar – I use my BlackBerry for everything from checking Twitter, texting my husband, tracking my workouts, taking photos of my nieces and sometimes even making phone calls. Why didn’t I think of using its organizational functionality earlier? I’ve started scheduling in dedicated research, writing and editing times right into my BlackBerry calendar, and it’s working very well so far. Seeing how much I’ve accomplished each week keeps me motivated.
What tools do you use to keep your projects on track? And do they need a fall makeover?