I'm a big fan of organisation. Looking at my bedroom, that might not be immediately obvious. At the time of writing this, there are two big bags full of CDs that should be on shelves. There's a coat that should be hanging up in my wardrobe. There are notebooks on the end of my bed that don't belong there. To make matters worse, there are wrappers from bars on my desk. I'm excusing myself of all of these things, because I've just moved into the box room again, without any of the functional shelving and storage space I actually need.
What I do have, however, is a FiloFax, a page-a-day diary, and more ring binders than most people consider sane. These are my tools of organisation, the things that keep me focused on different areas of my life. Mainly they're writing based. What can I say, my life is a lot less complicated than I sometimes let on. (Though, if I told you about every writing project I haven't considered "dead", the ones that are in folders and binders and notebooks in my bedroom, it would become increasingly complicated.)
So, let's leave it at "writing" and leave out the specifics of what I'm actually writing for now. I already talk about that enough.
My FiloFax was a present from my niece. Well, technically it was from my brother and his girlfriend, but it was given on behalf of my niece. I had wanted one for a while, but I didn't mention that to anyone. Now that I have one, I had to figure out what to use it for. So, I used the six tabs within it to designate different areas of interest.
Part 1: To-Do. This one is simple. It has note pages and to-do list pages alternating. I have a general list of things I need to do at the front of the section, but I imagine that when it comes down to the specifics of one or another, I'll use another page dedicated to it.
Part 2: Writing Notes. Anything I need to take a note of for a book or an article or anything like that will go on the note pages in this section. It's simple.
Part 3: Ideas and Inspiration. I've used it precisely once, so far. I got the idea to write a weekly diary series for a character from a series of books I plan on publishing, beginning this year. He's a cynical git, and it's a fun little series to have started. The first part, Dear Whatever went up on Monday on ParagraVerse. You can read it here: http://paragraverse.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/dear-whatever/
That's right out of my FiloFax. See how helpful my organisation is?
Part 4: Books to Read. I have three in here so far, but it's actually missing quite a few. They're books I don't currently own, though I'm considering writing the list of books I want to read that I already own in it, too. That'll certainly make choosing the next one easier. (At the moment I'm reading The Curve by Nicholas Lovell, but I'm nearly done, so I'll need a new one soon.) It's a thinner section than the previous two. It's just titles, after all.
Part 5: Travel. So far, it's empty. Why? Because I don't have the budget to travel yet. However, when I do find a way to travel, I'll be using this section to organise everything I want to do. I'll begin filling it in soon, anyway, with the things I'd like to do on the first trip I want to go on: London. The shows I want to go to, the touristy things I want to do, the people I'd like to meet if this were an ideal universe. Not every city will have one of those lists, but London definitely has one. People who know my little niche interests (you know, something more specific than books or writing) might be able to guess who a couple of them are from London.
Part 6: Contacts. So far, it has one thing in it: a business card. However, I plan on bringing the FiloFax with me everywhere, and having somewhere to put people's contact information and business cards is important. In the end, who you know is as important as what you know. This is the world we live in, now.
Obviously, my FiloFax also has the diary section that all FiloFaxes come with, and that's helpful. I use it record what I need to do in a day, and record what I did do, in terms of writing or publishing. I have a year planner that pulls out, too, but until I have my room sorted and can access my estimated publication dates for different projects, I can't really fill anything in.
Complimenting my FiloFax is my A4 page-a-day diary. Two things about it: it was cheaper, and it's not going to be carried around with me whenever I go somewhere. It's just too impractical for that. However, I'm using it plan out things like articles and stories, on the day on which they are due. This leaves me with a full page with which to work, and means I have every plan recorded in a nice hardback for protection, too. I used that diary to plan my first article of the year, and I used it to determine the possibility of even beginning the weekly diary series that I mentioned above.
Alongside this, and the oldest of my organisational tools, is an A4, green ring binder. It's basically my CV. Except that it also contains my CV, so that's a CV within a CV. It also has my first published article in a national magazine; the poster for The Rest is Silence and the letter from the charity we supported with it; printed records of monthly book sales from Amazon; and my notes from Brendon Burchard's The Millionaire Messenger, which I'm using as a template for planning various aspects of my life.
All in all, these three things focus on future planning and organisation. The binder is the long-term plan. The diary is the mid-term plan; nothing in it will be planned more than three weeks' in advance in full detail. The FiloFax is more short-term, updated at most a week in advance. It's also the one I'll address a lot more often than the others, because some days I'll need to record that I have successfully written a number of different things across different projects.
Does it all work? Well, on the day I wrote this blog post - Monday - I also wrote four short chapters for an upcoming ebook. This was between doing various things around the house, checking in on people online, and spending a bit of time playing games online. I watched YouTube videos, I spent some time with my niece, and I arranged the bits and pieces within my new bedside locker. I had a productive,stress-free day, while managing to accomplish an awful lot. So yes, my tools of organisation work.
What about you? How do you stay on top of the various things life requires of you? Does anyone have an interesting App for that?