Staying organized is a big challenge for every profession — there is always more to do than hours in the day. Writing, like every job, has its own unique organizational challenges. When you write, you are essentially distilling and packaging information in a new way, so you have to have a solid understanding of this information, the strategy and nuances.
Sure, some writers have the absent-minded professor-like ability to write stunning white papers, web copy or ads without notes, lists or outlines. I — without a doubt — am not one of those people. When you look at my desk, there are piles of my notes, timelines and, of course, millions of to-do lists.
Organizing information, the requirements and ideas is a necessary process for writing well. It may take more time, but it ensures a better final product — especially if you’re like me!
So, how can writers stay organized? I’m always trying out new techniques and strategies, but my favorite one is one I learned back in middle school — a 1/2 inch three-ring binder.
I keep all important documents for my current projects in the binder. I print out different versions and drafts of my writing, research and notes. Longer documents that don’t need to be printed are placed in a folder on my computer, usually labeled “White Paper project — Important Docs”.
Since staying on top of deadlines is so important and I’m usually juggling a few projects at a time, I have an entire section in the binder dedicated to calendars, weekly to-do lists and project deadlines.
Sometimes I feel like a thirteen year old with a trapper-keeper, but it really works so I’m sticking with it!
How about you? How do you keep important projects and information organized? Is organization a struggle or does your life look like Martha’s?