Resolutions are dropping like flies as they usually doing by mid-January. According to Psychology Today, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are health related: losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking. I haven’t smoked in too many years to count, but the others regularly make my list.
However, I beg to differ with Psychology Today. I think the most common resolutions have to do with getting organized. Take writing for instance. I juggle a number of single writing projects at any one time. Currently, I’m working on a travel feature on Colorado in summer and two children’s books—one on women aviators and the other will be a tour guide look at Nigeria. I recently signed a contract to work on a financial literacy curriculum project as well. It’s also National Travel Writing Month , and I made a commitment to send out a query, pitch, or letter of introduction to a travel-related site or publication daily during the month of January (more on my progress later) .
I have regular part-time jobs writing advertorials and managing advertising for a real estate agency. I have my first mystery coming out in June and need to move on the marketing, yet I also want to return to writing the second in the series. Just in case, you know?
I also know enough about the writing business to know that I have to keep marketing myself. Otherwise, the alternative is NO writing jobs. Networking through social media has been on my to do list for awhile now, but I always seem to fall short. I occasionally comment on my LinkedIn Discussion groups and look for present and past editors I’ve work with. A ghost gets more action on Facebook than I do. I check in maybe once a month and Twitter went silent soon after I created the account.
And I’m not going to even start with family-related commitments that comes with three active sons. Suffice to say that housework is really, I mean really far down on my list of priorities.
Most days, I like living this way. Every day is a new adventure with new projects to grab my attention. Boredom never stands a chance. Sure, I go nuts now and then when deadlines are breathing hot and heavy down my neck, and my schedule tries to smother me. Just last month, I totally forgot about a swimming booster club parents meeting until the day after (and I’m the secretary!).
However, I hit more than I miss. The key is organization. Here are tips that I’ve incorporated into my eternal quest to be more organized—
1) Write it down–several time management experts have said that writing it all down (and not on sticky notes or scraps of paper that just get lost) frees up your mind from having to remember it. My to do list is in a spreadsheet program, organized by type of activity, i.e. professional, family, household, and health. I add to it as things pop up.
From my to do list, I move selected items into the Task and Calendar panes of my Microsoft Outlook after prioritizing. Also, on that to do list is figuring out how to sync all this to my cell phone.
2) Prioritize—also an often heard of piece of advice is to prioritize. Important tasks with a deadline are first; second are important tasks with no deadline; third are unimportant tasks with a deadline, and last are unimportant tasks without a deadline. Here’s a hint, the unimportant tasks without a deadline are never going to get done.
3) Planning—I schedule a planning period one morning a week. I revisit my priorities as I decide what I need to focus on for the next week. This is often when things are scheduled into Outlook.
Along with these three items, I have learned that flexibility is very important. Take the daily queries/pitches for National Travel Writing Month. Am I doing this each and every day? No, I’m not. But every few days, I work on several queries at one time. So on this day, the 15th of the month, I have completed 15 queries, pitches, or letters of introduction.
Now if I could just get this system to work with diet and exercise…