Organisation is not really the strong point for many creatives and I am no exception. I have a messy desk, I dislike feeling like I have a schedule to stick to, I find to-do lists constrictive and I get bored if there is too much routine in my life. I love the unexpected for many reasons.
I have found, however, that being a full time writer requires some discipline. It requires promoting, time management and all sorts of organisationally related things. Running two companies makes this all the worse.
As I started getting more to do I would sit and think for at least ten minutes each day trying to figure out what I should be doing. As I found I had more to do this length of time got worse until I succumbed to writing at the very least the title of each project on a piece of paper. While I only had 5 projects I was working on at once this worked quite well. It was enough to remind me of all the different aspects and my brain could do the rest.
Then I created a second company and agreed to a whole bunch of other things. I also found all my admin related stuff began to build up and being a creative I didn’t like doing it. As only projects were on my list the emails and non creative things weren’t always remembered. On top of that I then actually published my book and had promoting, social networking and all that to fuss with. I suddenly had a list of things to do daily.
This is where evernote came to my rescue. It’s basically a note system that can be used on any computer smart phone etc no matter where you are. What had become three pieces of paper of current project, ideas for future projects and admin tasks, became a bunch of loose notes on some program I could close if I wanted to ignore it and go do something unexpected.
My first created note listed all my ideas for books that I think are likely to be worth writing, some might be more film based but they were the best of the bunch. It’s nice to know its there rather than just a list of character names somewhere in the back of my head. I also created a note for all Flight’s projects and the next stages and things I needed to think about. I don’t use that note as often as my business partner and I frequently discuss that stuff but it’s still useful for not forgettin anything.
The best note I created though was the daily task list. The things that I struggled with the most in my bleary eyed morning state while I was waiting for the caffiene to kick in. Now when I first get up I just open up evernote and that particular note, go through the list doing what it says and usually by the time I’m on the last item I’m actually awake. I found this alone saved me at least an hour in the mornings. Rather than sitting scratching my head about what I should be doing I could just get on and do it and get back to the fun writing stuff when it was done.
My next set of notes was the dreaded to-do-list notes and I have to admit I thought about how I wanted to do these for a while. I didn’t want them to feel pressured. As a result I decided to break them down by month. I also decided not to name them to-do-list but each month they were created in. So in May I created the first one. I put on it everything I knew I needed to do. Things like write letter to so and so, work on this t-shirt design, finish book 2 etc. Fairly loose instructions. Anything I had to have done by the end of the month I bolded.
Then when it got to June I created another one for June and if something new came up I added it to June’s note. For the first time ever I could glance at these lists and just pick something. If I feel behind I pick something older, if I’m bored of that I pick something else. Everything that needs to be done for a deadline is being done and at any one time I have an idea of how busy I am but I don’t have a to-do-list. Nothing but the few bolded things require me to worry about them particularly. And because I just put stuff I ‘want’ to do on the list I can change my mind and take it off again if I decide it’s not that important later.
It reminds me of the quote that a canvas needs edges to make a good painting. I think I found my edges. Evernote.