Nov 072011

Are you one of those people that can’t create unless your mind is clear and relaxed? What a coincidence – me too! This is why I spend a lot of time organizing my work space and my home. I want to be as productive as possible. Here are some organizational tips that have worked for me and may work for you.

1. You know that pile of paper you have sitting on your desk? Go through it and dump what you don’t need right now. Do it! If you don’t, you’ll have a bigger pile waiting for you next week. Think paperless.

2. Check off all of the unread messages in your e-mail account at once and delete them all. Each morning, read and respond to the messages that matter and delete the ones that don’t. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists you care nothing about. This will keep your e-mail inbox under control. At one point I had over 1600 unread e-mail messages. I tried this and now I get about 50 messages a day, which I look through and delete first thing in the morning, which makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something huge!

3. Do you know what you spend your time on? For a single day log how you’re spending your time hour by hour. Create a pie chart to identify your time wasters. Now eliminate them.

4. Every week spend time filing all of your bills and important papers in your file cabinet.

5. Go through your magazines. What you can’t or don’t have time to read, toss. Pull out clippings of the stuff you think is important. Scan them, create pdf’s and organize them by subject in folders on your computer. Throw out all clippings once scanned.

6. Back up your computer every week. Trust me, if you work on your computer, you should back up your ish every week. This is especially important for writers. Backing up is a way of life for us. If you don’t have an external HD, look for an online place to back up your files or e-mail your files to yourself just in case. You never know. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

7. If you’re anything like me, then you keep a lot of stuff, even product guides. They are the bane of my existence, but I refer to them often so I can’t toss them. I thought about scanning, but it was too much, so mine lived in a drawer for a very long time. Big mistake! Here’s what I did to organize that mess:

Step 1: Tossed all guides in other languages.
Step 2: Organized the guides I kept by subject.
Step 3: Utilized large plastic zip-locking bags.
Step 4: Slapped a label on each bag and stuffed them with the appropriate product guides.
Step 5: Got a bin and put the zip-locking bags inside.
Step 6: Labeled the bin “Product Guides” for easy reference.
Step 7: Stashed them in my closet and out of my way.

8. Designate blocks of time in the day to get things done. Try not to spend more than a few hours at a time on anything. You could burn yourself out and not want to do anything else and that would suck.

9. Everything has a place. If you take something out, put it back in the same place by the end of the day.

10. Take time to take care of yourself and your family: exercise, laugh, sleep. Do things that are good for you and you’ll be your best and most productive self.

I recently finished reading, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen. It’s excellent and tackles a lot of the issues us writer’s face while trying to organize our “writing life.” There are several detailed and clear-cut examples to follow. Cohen’s advice is practical and makes sense. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to other writers.

If you’re drowning in clutter, then check this video out and follow the one-minute rule:

I am so going to read The Happiness Project soon.

Have a happy and productive writing week y’all. 🙂