I am not, by nature, a terribly organized person. But I’ve had to become one out of self-defense. Between family and work and day-to-day minutia, writing time will get eaten if you let it.
Back in January, I looked back at 2016 and I could see that I hadn’t accomplished all I really wanted to writing-wise. Thinking about it, I decided that I needed more concrete actions to try to reach my goals. The Antoine de Saint-Exupery quote above really resonated with me, so one of my goals for 2017 was to start setting more deadlines for myself, because without them, time can slip away.
I started erratically keeping a bullet journal last year. I’ll be honest, the BuJo system didn’t 100% work for me, so I made some adjustments to it and am now using my notebook more like a traditional day planner with a few extras.
Every month I set up a calendar for the month with a page opposite to write down
what I want to accomplish that month. I’ve experimented with different formats for the weekly pages, and finally found one I like. There’s a space at the beginning to note weekly goals and a place to track a couple of things.
What I’ve done to help myself get more done this year:
- Set a calendar for the year with writing goals. I’ve adjusted this as I figure out how long things actually take. (I have a pretty good idea of how much first draft I can write in an hour, but I had no idea how long edits took me. I had to adjust my initial goals to account for that.)
- set monthly goals
- set weekly goals
- schedule writing time on my daily calendar, particularly in the morning right when I wake up and before my kids do. If I get in even a brief writing session in the morning, it seems to make it easier to fit more in later in the day. I keep my planner next to my laptop so when I sit down I see “Write” written in below the day of the week and it reminds me to prioritize it.
- As a subset of the above, I shut down my browser at night and leave whatever document I’m working on open so it’s the first thing i see when I go to the computer.
- log my writing time and give myself a sticker if I hit my daily goal. I tried having a separate grid for the whole month to fill in with stickers, but it seems to work better for me if I fill in on the weekly calendar as I go.
- At the end of the weekly pages, I have a page to track what I’ve read, and then opposite that, a page where I assess if I met my goals for myself, and why I didn’t if I didn’t.
So here’s this week’s layout, with stickers and notes. I do think this year I am accomplishing more of what I want to, because I’ve set timelines instead of hoping to get X amount of things done this year. It’s also helped in that I can look back and see how I spent my time, instead of getting to the end of the month and either having met my wordcount/editing goal/whatever or not, but not having documentation of how I got there. (Or didn’t!) A big part of staying on track for me is finding the balance between not beating myself up if things get too busy that I don’t meet my goal, but also not letting procrastination set in. My process is constantly evolving, but this is working for me right now. I’d love to hear what works for you.