This could be subtitled “Or tools I use to trick myself into being productive.”
People often ask how I “get so much done.” Now, a lot of times they’re also asking about housework (hint: I subscribe to the “lived in” school of housekeeping), homeschooling (toss the books at ’em and tell them if they need help to holler) and a few other things like you know… cooking, shopping, sleeping (I do a LOT of that, despite rumors to the contrary. I just sleep at odd hours compared to most). But I do use several tools to help me with all of it.
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However, in regards to writing, they usually mean, “How do you write and publish 50 books a month?” Well, first, I don’t. Second, I never have, and third, I published so many in the beginning because I’d been writing them for ten to twelve years. So I had a LOT done (still have some done and not yet in print!)
But I clearly have ADD. I’ve taken every test I can find and always score crazy high on it. Let’s just say my parents were geniuses at teaching me to cope, because I never realized that everyone didn’t have some of the issues I had as a kid. I definitely had ADD and serious sensory issues.
Did you know not EVERYONE cannot think or function if the seam on their sock isn’t perfectly across the toenails or the heel is slightly twisted–even just slightly? The hours of torture my mother put me through, making me finish the page of math problems before I could fix my sock… I thank her for it now. I wanted to bawl like a baby then (totally not allowed, and I’m glad).
I digress–probably further proof of that ADD thing, right?
So I change and shift as needs arise and go, but this is what I used in 2015 and it was very effective for me. Because of that, I’m updating the post and sharing it again.
The first tool I used to keep me focused and productive is my planner. Regardless of what kind of planner I need in any given year, I always need a planner of some kind.
This is a Plum Paper Designs Family Planner BTW. I linked to the cover I purchased for my 2016 personal planner. Alas, it has disappeared and I am sad. So right now, I’m using a different system for both of my planner needs (I HAVE to keep mine separate). The old Plum Paper Planners had cardstock covers with a plastic overlay. I didn’t like them, so I covered it with a custom cover I purchased from Erin Condren (in 2016, they changed their covers and now I can’t destroy this thing to save my life!).
Note: If you click the Erin Condren link and register an account, they’ll send you 10 dollars off your first purchase. They’ll also send me a 10.00 credit after your purchase has shipped. I often use those credits to give away planners or journals.
How I modify to make it work for me:
Here’s the original cover that I cut off, trimmed down, laminated, punched, and made removable so I can have whatever cover floats my boat that week on my planner. 😀
This planner has the option of having pre-printed custom sections all along the left sides of the rows. I opted to leave mine blank so I could write it in as I needed. SO glad I did.
How I use it for monthly planning:
Okay. The first thing I do is I have these little sticky flags on my month at a glance. I don’t usually write in these boxes. Sometimes I’ll deck out a day for a release, but as you can see, I didn’t do last Tuesday’s release of A Forgotten Truth. Why? I was too busy writing. So… there you have it!
This is this week’s sticky results. I can see, at a glance, what I’ve done. As I do each thing, I move the sticky down into place. For example, if I write 652 words today, I’ll move the 500 stickies onto today’s square. If I write 3400 words, I’ll move the 3500 onto it. I do the same for planning newsletters, blog posts, everything.
And at the end of the week, I put the total in my Saturday box.
This is always a bit odd because the weekly view is Monday-Sunday and the monthly view is Sunday-Saturday. But I wouldn’t want a full CALENDAR to start on Monday. That’d annoy me since nearly every other calendar out there starts on Sunday. And, I like my workweek starting on Monday and ending on Sunday because Saturday and Sunday are light days for me. The confusion works for me. Probably that whole big family thing.
So, this is the end of last week.
As you can see, I wrote about 12,400 words. The reason it doesn’t add up to an even 12,500 is that I counted ACTUAL Saturday words and rounded to the nearest hundred. I also put a summary of social media stuff. Believe it or not, Social Media is important to authors, which is kind of cool, because I love getting to know my readers better. It makes them friends rather than just numbers of downloads. I hate turning people into numbers. Blech.
Okay, so that’s what that looks like. Just one of my tools to keep track of what I’m doing each day. If I see not much changing, then I know I need to stop dilly-dallying, and get movin’!
How I use for weekly planning:
Here’s my daily planned work. Sometimes I get ahead. Others I get behind. But USUALLY, I end up done by the end of the week. Note that usually. Sometimes, this gets repeated twice… or more. Because life happens, you know?
Okay, this is what the planner looks like on any given week. This week had two big days on it. AFT release and my ACFW meeting in Orange County. That was a lot of fun, and while I got much done in planning a new book, I didn’t get any writing done at all. Did meet a new friend. Had a blast. And I had lunch with my daughter–always fun!
If you’ll note, I added a note there for myself. Get my son Chipotle. He loves that stuff, and it’s 90 miles one way to the nearest restaurant. Ahem.
Sometimes, these rows are JAM PACKED. Other times, not so much.
Last week was pretty mild. Almost a breeze. This week… whoa. Not so much. I have to be working on two full manuscripts at once while still keeping up with blogs and social media. Oh… and my Monday is a bit fractured by having guests over for half the day–belated birthday party with friends.
Planning starts with these little beauties. I LOVE these highlighters from Frixion. They ERASE. Seriously! They’re AWESOME. Look!
I take those highlighters and section off my planner by book/blog/thing. I also label those sections on the left. Those are what come pre-custom printed if you want them. But then you’re stuck with your genius ideas from six months ago when you get a new one. So you have to make stickers, which is okay, but it does bulk up that side. Just a thought there.
Then I start filling in information. I put barely anything in this picture because I don’t want to give too much plot stuff away *SPOILERS* 😉 , but all that empty space will have notes about what I’m going to write.
And that’s the daily use of the planner.
But I have other pages in it that I use.
I used to use the notes at the beginning of each month to plan out that month’s blog posts. I do it SOMETIMES now, but not as much. It looked like this when I got going (sorry, this is an old picture. by the end of that month, those were mostly filled).
Then I got smarter and started doing this!
Look, I know it’s a bit juvenile or something, but I LOVE color. LOVE it. So, I make these pages pretty to make ME want to look at them. Others would see it and run screaming from the visual clutter. And that’s okay! That’s what this stuff is all about! Making your tools work for YOU!
Okay, so I have a lot of
tricks er, tips I use to maximize my effectiveness. This is just one. LOVE this planner and when I use it consistently, I’m much more productive. I tried doing this on digital things like Google Calendar, desktop apps, the works. Never stuck to it. This, I have. And I will.
And, as we can see, I also adapted my life to new ideas when the time came. And that works, too. My writing planning now takes on more of a bullet journal style, but that’s for another post.