Thursday, September 4, 2014

Time Management and Project Organization

Caitlin here. I’m always looking in to how to work more efficiently, sometimes to my detriment (as I spend a lot of time playing around with new time management systems :) ). However, I find the Getting Things Done system, in combination with some useful tools, such as Toodledo and Trello, helps me be efficient and (mostly) clear headed in all aspects of my life.

On that note, I’m also interested in the psychology behind productivity. Especially recently, as I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish this summer and don’t want that lethargy to follow me into the fall and winter!

This unproductive period coincided with starting a new time management cloud system* just for my writing that I was originally super excited about! It laid out all of my projects and tasks—EVERYTHING I was working on—in one glimpse. It also carefully estimated when my projects would be completed. I thought that was great!

…And, then, I proceeded to have the least productive three months of writing I’ve had in quite a long time. 

This can be blamed on many things, I’m sure, but it occurred to me that the quick glimpse of EVERYTHING I wanted to accomplish and how (very) long it was going to take for me to get to the “finish mark” was just too disheartening. 

I shook myself off and decided I needed a new approach. I stumbled on this article, which says it’s better to have processes instead of goals. Basically, the point is, it’s better to say, “I will spend four 25 minute blocks (throwing in the Pomodoro Technique!...I told you I was into this stuff :) ) a day working directly on my novels,” than it is to say “I will write three novels this year.”

So, I set up daily cards in Trello (with some ideas from this blog) to mark these new processes. So far it’s been working pretty well, though it’s probably too soon to know for sure. And, like I said, I’m always open to hearing new techniques. How do you motivate yourself to stay productive? How do you keep yourself organized and efficient? Or do you just feel so compelled to write you don’t even need a system (and if so, I’m jealous! :) )?

 *I still think the product is great on many levels, so I didn’t want to mention it here (in a negative light).

Dan: Time management, like reorganizing that junk drawer in my house, is one of those things that I know I should do, but never get around to doing. I appreciate the irony in that. It's true that many writing-oriented goals are difficult to meet because writing is hard, time is limited, and life gets in the way. Since most writers have day jobs and families and lives outside of the office, it's often a juggling act.

The best I can do is keep to-do lists. The cloud helps with that: I use Google Tasks and it syncs between my phone, iPod, and laptop. Beyond that, I usually avoid devoting too much time to "getting organized" because it takes away time from the writing itself.

Karlie: Thanks for those great ideas, Caitlin! Those are definitely worth a second look. I usually keep to-do lists, too - but I prefer to write mine down on paper. (Actual paper...I know!!) It helps me think and keeps me organized.

I don't really have a set writing schedule - my life is insane - but I definitely write at least a little every day. My (loose) goal is to finish a novel per year, and so far I've stuck with it.

Lisa: I don't use anything - no to-do list, paper or computer file, no magical cloud for me either. Just me and my motivation. Last year I wrote three novels, but this year is only going to produce two. Take from that what you will. I'm big on outlines and when one is done, you could call that my to-do list. My brain is tricked into believing an outline is the boss. It sees chapters that aren't written yet and it wants to write those chapters. Maybe saying this is going to jinx me now. :)
However, I could probably benefit from more structure with other aspects in my writing world such as querying and networking. I don't query near enough and always procrastinate. The same goes for networking - Twitter, blog commenting and checking Facebook (my biggest weakness). Maybe I'll check out some of your links for that, Caitlin. Thanks for sharing!

1 comment:

  1. Time management and project organization are acceptably the most recommended and confined way to work out for a way to reach out to the target. In order to make the process more simple and streamlined, I prefer using the cloud based hours tracking software from Replicon which is more respective in every possible sense.