There are two basic approaches to getting organized. There’s the ground up approach where you get a handle on the mundane things like your filing system and your to-do lists and the clutter on your desk and then hope for two things — that this time it all sticks and that somehow it will spillover into how you organize your actual time. And there’s the top-down approach where you focus on your big goals and big projects, attempting to keep them organized and on task and hope that somehow the small stuff will magically get done.
Most web writers I know get caught in the in-between place and feel like they’re scrambling to get caught up on every front … and yes, I’m one of most web writers I know.
But, I’ve been having some luck getting organized recently. My cluttered writing desk is getting less cluttered — it’s by no means perfect, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m getting better and better at managing both big projects and the myriad daily and weekly recurring projects that are on my calendar.
Here’s what I’m doing differently:
Ditching the to-do list: For a long time, I’ve created a to-do list for each week and then worked from that to create my to-do list for each day. But with the number of recurring projects I have every week, this approach makes it tough to work ahead because I’m just not thinking about next week’s recurring projects, so even if I have time to work on them I don’t. Now instead of using a list, I’m using a calendar grid. I write in recurring and mini-projects I can handle in a single go in black and bigger projects in blue. At a glance, I can see what’s due on any day for the next six weeks. And I make sure I work on least two blue projects every day, so I’m never scrambling at the last minute when those big projects come due. I still have a daily to-do list, but my top-level view of what’s coming up is much more complete.
End-of-day recovery: I haven’t mastered this one yet, but it’s designed to keep my workspace clean. I keep two boxes on my desk — one for current projects and one for things to be filed or sorted. At the end of the day, I put any stray papers in the proper box. When I start work the next day, I have a clean space around me, which means fewer distractions. At the end of the week, I clean out the boxes and file things where they go.
Adding a “plus one”: I’m a planner. If I’m not careful, I will fill up every minute of my day with something I “should” be doing. It’s a recipe for frustration. So, outside of my regular work schedule, I’m limiting my to-do list to a “plus one” … just one additional task for the day. Beyond that, I’m free to do what I feel like doing, from reading a book to taking a walk to cleaning the house to working on a project … I just go where my whims take me.
These three changes are slowly but surely helping me get a better handle on my organization and that’s helping me make more progress on the types of projects that are most important to me.
New This Week
I hope you’re enjoying a happy, relaxing holiday week. Things have been low-key on Wealthy Web Writer, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t added some great new content.
For starters, check out Mindy’s recent post on getting into a cycle of success. This is about how one success tends to feed another and how you can put yourself on an upward spiral.
Then, read John Torre’s latest post on why long copy really does work on the Internet.
Finally, don’t miss the latest Roving Report from Susanna Perkins. She covers Rebecca’s event on researching and identifying good prospects for your web-writing business.
On the Calendar
It’s time to kick off the New Year right with our first live Member Update. Join me this Friday, January 4th to give yourself a jolt of motivation for 2013.
Around the Web
These are my top five picks from around the Internet this week …
Get Organized Wizard shares some of the best advice on achieving goals: “Start from wherever you are and with whatever you’ve got.”
If you need a little extra incentive to make regular posts to your blog, check out Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge for bloggers.
Give your blog posts the best chance of success after you publish them — great and useful advice from Problogger.
SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday looks at why it’s important to link to other sites along with other good SEO advice.
And, see why email marketing remains an important component of any online business’s marketing plan, even though open rates are on the decline.
That’s all for now. Make it a great week!