How do you stay organized with your writing? It’s a critical question, and to an extent, it’s unique to each writer.
Over the last several months of school, at one point, I just took half of a Saturday organizing all the worksheets I’d put together. I placed them in filing cabinets and organized computer files in digital folders related to lesson plans. Before that, my desktop looked like a war zone: files and pictures on top of one another. The same, unfortunately, could have probably been said about my writing documents.
When I got an idea, I just ran with it. I'd open a Google document, and I'd start writing. However, a lot of times, I'd get another idea that didn't relate to the same one. I'd open another Google document and completely abandon the previous one. I might come back to it later, or I might not. If anyone were to break into my computer, they would have been confused by all the untitled documents and string of paragraphs. There was no method in my madness, even though sometimes there actually was.
Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned–and am learning–in keeping everything organized.
Keep A Calendar / Planner
My husband and I keep a huge calendar in the kitchen. It's primarily for tracking things like doctor’s appointments, meetings with friends, finances, and when to clean the house. My personal calendar, however, is a completely separate story.
The back room of our house is my office, and I have a professional calendar for any writing drafts I’m working on, writing jobs that are due soon, upcoming lesson plans and networking events, and allotted time to organize all of this material. (This does not include organizing time to cook meals or exercise.)
In addition to the calendar I keep in my office, I have a small planner in my purse (just in case I think of anything while I'm out), and a larger one I keep primarily at home.
I love having these items, and I get a sense of relief when crossing something off. It just feels good. (It’s also fun to use gel pens and even color-code things that are higher priority on the list.)
TIP: If you don’t want to purchase anything, I recommend: Todoist. The free version works just as well as the others.
Take Time Each Week
Take time each week to organize your work space. It’s so easy to let physical and digital files pile up and become a mess. Make sure that you’re allotting at least 15 minutes a week in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed, according to the 2021 article “5 tips for staying organized all year long," by The Writer.
Another important point made by the article is to take note of items that might be unnecessarily cluttering up your workspace. Is there anything that could be moved somewhere else? Bills? Or even small trinkets (like staples or paperclips)? Might it help to install a shelving unit to organize these in a separate area so they’re not distracting you from your job?
I know I personally can't focus if there are too many distractions.
Organize Digital Files, Too
Digital files are the easiest to get out of control. They're sitting in your computer, which you can close and put away anytime. It’s also easy to get in the habit of knowing where things are even when they’re in digital disarray.
Folders can really help out with organization. How organized you get with them depends on you, but I feel so much better when everything on my desktop looks nice and neat.
Dates, Dates, Times
Adding dates to a document can help a lot with organization. That being said, adding the time to the same document, especially if you’re coming back to it multiple times in one day or on multiple dates may also help with organization–especially when it comes to later revisions, (which I’ll talk about in a separate post.)
How you stay organized in your writing journey is ultimately up to you, but I hope some of these tips were helpful.
Share any other tips or suggestions you have in the comments below.