Savvy Speaks: How Do You Stay Organized?

Savvy Speaks: How Do You Stay Organized?
Savvy Sisters - Wed Oct 05, 2011 @ 09:10AM
Comments: 23

We Savvy Sisters are BUSY. When we get busy, we're often juggling several clients and dozens of projects (not to mention kids, SO's, pets, hobbies, etc). And because the copywriter is almost always the unofficial project manager too, that means on any given day we could be tracking hundreds of milestones and deadlines, too. How do we stay organized? Turns out it's not always as elegantly as we'd hoped...


Use a few systems
I don't have one foolproof way to stay organized, but there are several things I rely on consistently.
Google Calendar: I often schedule time-sensitive tasks on Google Calendar. These are things such as "Follow up with this person on this task" or "Blog post due." It's helpful to have those reminders come up on a daily basis. 
Spreadsheets: There are certain projects I track in a spreadsheet, most notably my editorial calendar. I have this open daily, and by logging the status of each piece of content, I can easily keep track of what needs to happen. 
Pen and paper: For day-to-day tasks, I rely on good ol' pen and paper. I have one page of things I need to do immediately and another page (or more) that tracks other things that need my attention. It's old school, but it works for me. And, nothing is quite as satisfying as markting things off a list :)


Google - Evernote - Viewpath

As a recovering web development project manager, I've had more than my share of experience with project plans, schedules, and budgets. I've been a Franklin Covey disciple (it took until this year to part with my paper binder even though I stopped using the system two years ago). I've designed and road-tested a half dozen different Excel-based systems that involved color-coding, if/then formulas, and serious sorting and filtering functionality. I haven't tried every task management system known to man, but I've certainly tried a lot of them. 

Today, my system is simple. I don't have a To Do list. That's right - no to Do list. A little over a year ago, I gave "calendaring" a try, and I never looked back. For more details, you can read my post at Live to Write-Write to live about doing away with the To Do list.

The other two tools I use are Evernote (to capture and organize ideas and references) and Viewpath (a free, online project managment software that includes all the bits of Microsoft Project's feature set that I like without the stuff I never use). 

There are SO many organizational systems out there. The "right" one for you is the one that fits your work style, doesn't create too much administrative busy work, and is simple enough that you're able to stick to it. 

Good luck! 


Needs to keep up with the speed of my changing deadlines

I had high hopes for Outlook as an organizational tool. But with all the deadlines I'm tracking (and at the pace they keep changing) it was just taking too long to enter and then change all my to-do's on a daily basis. Right now I am using a color coded Excel spreadsheet to track daily and weekly activities (just cut and paste in an instant when things change), and I use Outlook to remind me of meetings and appointments as well as to coordinate the child care schedule with my husband (the shared calendar function is awesome for busy familes with unpredictable schedules).

If any of our readers out there have come across a better solution - I would love to hear about it!


Push Your Calendar Software to its Limits!

Not only am I self employed with a crazy amount of variability in my schedule but my husband is also self employed and we have two children who are not exactly wallflowers!  I needed a calendar that could show his, mine and ours commitments.  I have found that my Google Calendar tied to my Android Phone is invaluable.  I can quickly see not only my contraints but those of every member of my family. 

For example I had a propect yesterday ask if I could be in NYC (I live in Kansas City) on the 13th for an all day meeting.  I know this means flying in the evening before.  While I was on the phone I could place the caller on speaker and look at all my calendars.  I saw my kids have chess club that afternoon 3-4pm and my son has a baseball game at 6pm.  I had a meeting with another prospect 4-5pm at a local tavern.  So I instantly knew what I needed to reschedule or get coverage for in order to make that work.

When I enter items into my calendar I don't put just the title and time.  I load those suckers up with all the details via copy and paste.  Any phone numbers I might need, outlines, proposal details, etc.  If you copy and paste it to the calendar then we you retrieve it from your phone, iPad, etc in a few taps.

I also use the reminder and snooze features extensively.  Had a massage last week and the lady said I needed to do neck stretches three times a day.  I now have the reminders in my calendar and my tension headaches are already less frequent!  A healthy writer is a happy more productive writer!  Try it!


Have you found an elegant solution that can keep up with the freelance lifestyle??

PLEASE share!!!!!!!!

Comments: 23


1. Billy Mitchell  |  my website   |   Wed Oct 05, 2011 @ 01:51PM

Wow, I truly learn something of value everytime I click on a link to the Savvy B2B blog.
If anyone on the planet needs help with staying organized, it's me*. I'm printing out a hard copy of this advice and taping it on the cabinet by my desk. Thanks!

*some of the Savvy sisters know this to be true.

2. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Thu Oct 06, 2011 @ 09:34AM

Billy -
Hi! So nice to "see" you.
Glad you found something useful in the post. I hope the gods of office orderliness and efficiency are good to you ... they certainly have their quirks, don't they?

Happy organizing!

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