Organization & Accountability (Or the Tedium of the Mundane)

Somehow when we picture ourselves as “real writers” or better yet, “bestselling authors,” the vision is one filled with glitz and glamour. Exciting parties. Titillating conversation with other wordsmiths. Champagne toasts over brie, whirlwind book tours, and readers discussing our riveting storytelling abilities, pink-cheeked with excitement.

Maybe it’s the time of year or maybe it’s the feeling that everything in my schedule lately has to be planned down to the minute if I’m ever going to “get it all done.” Ever have days like that? While many of us thrive on schedules (even loose ones, jotted on the back of an envelope) and to-do lists (ever write things down after you’ve done them, just to experience the satisfaction of crossing them off?), there has to be a balance between organization and time to just live our lives.

Otherwise, we are not only unhappy people, we’re also unproductive writers.

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Image credit

So how do we do it? Balance time between our work, family and other commitments, between the “must do’s” and time to play and create, daydream and breathe? I don’t know. If I did, I would write a book about it and maybe that would be a bestseller. And then I could afford to hire someone to take care of all the details for me.

Until that happens, however, I need a plan. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Keep a weekly accountability sheet.

This is where I write down my must-do’s for the week at work (I keep a separate sheet for home). It also contains this year’s top three goals and a spot to highlight activities from last week which I’m most proud of—those which pushed me closer to my writing goals.

2. Keep a daily to-do list/schedule.

I found this excellent sheet on Tsh’s site, The Art of Simple. It helps me organize my day which makes me very happy. Note: Add “play” or “daydream” or “read fiction” or whatever else you most like to do but don’t allow yourself much time for on this sheet. Make it a real priority, just like work and then enjoy it!

3. Read this book: Manage Your Day to Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind.

The chapters are short so you could sneak one in while waiting for a fax or email, or taking a five minute break while the tea water to boils. It’s a small book, but is jam-packed with great ideas for us creative types who have a tendency to bite of a bit too much at times.

Now it’s your turn: what are some of your favorite ways to stay organized? In which areas do you struggle the most? 

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2 Responses to Organization & Accountability (Or the Tedium of the Mundane)

  1. I know you’re headed for a book release this coming weekend, J.P. — no wonder you’re focusing carefully on how you organize your time! It sounds like it’s going to work well, and I’m excited about your second thriller. (It is another thriller, yes? Looks like it from the cover!) My system is completely different: I do “paid” work (editing) until I’ve done enough to meet the ongoing deadlines, then meet family needs, then treasure the remaining time for writing, walking, reading, and soon gardening. It makes me a slower writer, but I hope I’m becoming a better one anyway … and, one chapter at a time, getting the books written. Lists: I keep two kinds: (1) important things to work on that take time on multiple days, and (2) urgent things where someone has a clock ticking for me. I try to make sure I work on List 1 “enough” to feel satisfied! — BK

  2. jpchoquette says:

    Thanks, Beth–I love hearing about how other writers organize their time and manage their weeks. I like your two list ideas. I think we’re similar in that way (lovers of lists!) but maybe have a little different style. Interesting. I can’t wait to hear more about your newest manuscript and to try out Pinterest for work, now that you’ve motivated us here!

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