How Do I Get Organized?


 I’m considered by most to be a Type-A personality, anal retentive, and organized. Well, not organized in the sense of being neat and tidy, but when my husband wants information about the cars, his boat, a bank account, etc., I have a file for it and I know where the file is. I make lists. I feel I’m flexible (to a degree), but I usually accomplish whatever I set as a goal.

I say all that because I’m going in circles right now. I have two books coming out, back to back, in June and July. This is the time to get started with publicity. This is the time to set up a blog tour, get the books sent out for reviews, create a newsletter to send to fans and libraries, plan a release party, plan, plan, plan… I know all that, and I work a little on one part of the package, then another part, and pretty soon I have notes all over the place, and partially written news releases, and I have no idea what one note means or where I put the information I needed for ordering more books, or…

I’m a mess.

Thank goodness I hired a virtual assistant, Florence Price, last year to help me, and she’s doing her part, but I need some sort of data base or spreadsheet or something that will pull all of this together. Something that resembles a calendar but has enough room to include notes, email addresses, a description of what I’m doing, room to put alerts so I know when I need to send something out and to whom. So far I’ve started Excel spreadsheets, and they’re better than nothing, but I’m wondering what other writers use. What do businessmen and women use to keep everything straight?

Any ideas?


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26 Responses to How Do I Get Organized?

  1. Hi, Maris,

    I used to keep files. I now keep notebooks. I also keep a journal in writing. I make to do lists. I am not well-organized nor do I manage much publicity.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I tried the notebook idea, Jacqueline, but I have too many projects going, and I couldn’t always remember how or where I listed something in the notebook.

  2. Diane Burton says:

    You bring up an important issue. Keeping track of a project. Right now the construction workers are hammering away on the house next door and my thoughts went to the project manager who coordinates all the subcontractors. So I Googled “project management” and found programs that you can try for free. Maybe one of them will be helpful.

  3. Shirley Smith says:

    I use google calendars and task lists. Within the task lists are three categories…. Must do with dates, Waiting for (WF) with dates (These are things that I am waiting for from other people) and the SDM (Some day maybe) list–a brain dump of things that I might want to do/dreams, etc. just to get them out of my head.

    Google calendar is used to set time specific appointments during the day (doctors, etc.) and also all day dates of when things need to be done. I also book time with myself specifically to focus on one item.

  4. I still work occasionally for a healthcare organization and do a lot with project management and strategy. It’s a huge barrier for people from the self-employed, all the way to presidents of corporations. I do use some spreadsheets, but the advice I always share is keep it visual! If it’s in a computer, it can’t be a constant reminder of what needs done. Post-its. Can’t have enough post-its!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Post-its don’t work for me, Jessica, mostly because they have a tendency to fall off the wall, get stuck on the wrong piece of paper, or my dog eats them. However, I agree. I need whatever I come up with to be visual.
      Thanks for the suggestions.

  5. Beth says:

    I’ve tried a couple of the project management systems to integrate calendars and haven’t what works for me.

    I’m back to winging it but I release infrequently so it isn’t a priority yet. I’m still focused on get more product before the promotion.

    But I do use a Mac only management program called Curio for all my writing organization. You can link to spreadsheets, word docs, html files and other things. It has more stuff than I use at the moment. (I use the mindmaps, pictures, drawing tools, document linking, and post it notes.) Not sure about sending notifications though.

  6. Vicki Batman says:

    Hi, Maris. First, make a media sheet which includes facts, blurbs, links about your book. Put in a folder with your bio, pix, and cover.

    I manage my blog tours with a physical calendar, one I can write on. I put on the specific day and in that days notations I put contact and link, blog address, what content is needed. When done, I check off. I tried on the computer and couldn’t get a format to work for me.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Vicki, I think I may need a physical calendar. As much as I like working on the computer, there are times when I tire of looking at a screen and I want to sit on the couch and go over things. Maybe a very big calendar.

  7. I feel as you do, Maris. I need more organization. I’ve read all the comments so far and see several helpful suggestions. I have always used a physical calendar for everyday life appointments, etc. and started one for this year for my writing projects as well. I’m definitely a visual person and keep physical file folders for everything. Old school, I know, but it works for me. There are some tricks this old
    dog can’t learn. 🙂

  8. ann bennett says:

    First of all, I am so impressed with the many books you have published.
    I use a teacher plan book. It gives a lot room to make notes and you can place reminders in the future to deal with items you anticipate. It’s organized by weeks which you date. This works better than a linear notebook.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thank you, Ann. As a former teacher (that was years and years ago), I remember those plan books. I’ll see if I can find one. Good suggestion.

      • Susan Dunn says:

        This sounds like a terrific idea. That it’s already laid out in weeks that you can label is great. That plus the physical calendar would help. I don’t have room for a huge project calendar.

  9. Elorise Holstad says:

    I so enjoyed reading all the comments made on your blog today. I had to smile at Shirley Smith’s “SDM” memos. “Some Day Maybe” is my credo. And, for me, organizing everthing in a physical calendar works best. (Even though, don’t laugh, this is true: my week at a time calendar is titled DO IT LATER, a 2015 planner for the creative procrastinator.)

    • Maris Soule says:

      Elorise, I’m afraid the DO IT LATER planner may not work for me this year. I am going to try a few of these suggestions. By the end of summer, I should have some idea what works and what doesn’t.

  10. Melissa Keir says:

    I have a calendar and notebook to keep track of everything. 🙂 All the best!!

  11. Carole Price says:

    I have two very large desk calendars. One to jot misc. notes on when on the phone, reminders, etc. Doesn’t even have to be the current month. I have another huge one to plot my book. I also use a notebook for dates of book events, fees, responses from publisher, book sales, etc. So far this works for me but I’m always looking for more suggestions. Happy you wrote about this. It generated lots of great ideas.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Carole, you’re right about the quantity of ideas. This is great and I thank all of you who have commented. I won’t be able to get to the store today, but definitely tomorrow. I’m checking out several programs that have been suggested, and need to buy a planner type notebook. With luck, I will be organized.

  12. Lyn says:

    Have you heard of bullet journals?

    There are quite a few videos on Youtube, also, but I think some people keep these as some kind of craft project. The guy on bulletjournal dot com lays it out in a basic way.

    Best wishes with the releases!