Time Management Tuesday

I know that what I am going to say here might be unpopular…please hear me out anyway. I promise to make it quick.

We as authors have a LOT of stuff to juggle…production costs, promotion costs, travel costs, education costs, event costs, swag costs…the list is LONG. Come tax time, I have seen, year after year, authors bemoaning the collection, collation, and coding of the invoices, receipts, and odds & ends slips of paper to prepare for the ‘day of due’ or celebration that you made it balance somehow and don’t owe Uncle Sam.

My proposition is, to take part of the Labor Day holiday, since most are off work anyway, and if you haven’t been keeping your documentation together monthly, to get it together and at least partially sorted now. The year is slowly but surely winding down and soon enough you’ll be consumed in holiday preparation or shopping and you surely won’t want to do it then, so do it now. Just a little.

It’s Labor day after all. Might as well labor a little. Then reward yourself with a barbecue and a cold one. 🙂 WIN-WIN.

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First things first & 5 section deals

Getting started is always the hardest part for me. Once the train is in motion, I can usually count on the momentum to keep it going, but getting it off the stop – maaaaan, HARD.

I have a large and long agenda to accomplish for myself, with accountability to others along the way. That my pack has been a reproduction site for sticky notes and scraps of paper for a bit too long has made getting going daunting. I needed to take some time, sort through all the bits of paper and scraps, get them organized by what they are and where they go so I can access the information, and…the hardest part of all…dare to toss some in the trash bin. EEEEEEP!

The halfway point had the discard pile looking something like this…

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…which is actually pretty good for me. I have duplicates often because I don’t want to be caught without the piece I need. Any other paper/documentation hoarders out there? By the end, I managed to clear multiple legal pads of their random notes and get them organized into 3 primary areas…my calendar/planner, my pad-folio of ‘to do’ items, and a 5 section sorter of writer/publisher things.

On my house website, Eclectic Bard Books, I post on Mondays…last week, I posted about the business of documentation. These 5 pocket sorter things are my lifeblood until the paper makes its way to the tax files. In my daily use one, I have receipts, reservations, event activity, check out/research, and WRITING sections. The last because I will invariably hit on an idea sitting in the drive thru at the bank and scribble notes on a scrap of paper…it has to go somewhere so it won’t be lost.

During events, the 5 section deal is for receipts, reservations, event calendar, commitments, running donations. An event specific calendar is easier to carry around than a planner to know what’s happening when since I try to be fully present at the event, not thumbing my calendar of other things…they will still be there when I am done. And, a commitments tab so that I know what my personal obligations are and where I can grab notes for specific panels or things I’m hosting. Lastly is the running donations section which has a tablet of sticky notes and a pen so if I run across a blogger, or do a pop up giveaway, I can record the information to log it later to my tax files. (Really, that section becomes a catch all for other things like phone numbers, websites, plot ideas, or notes for things I need to do when I get home.) When the event is done and I make it home, the filer is cleared and things for taxes go to the files, reservations-calendar-& commitments sections go into a file for the event, and the last section gets broken out and down to where the pieces need to go…Voila! It’s ready for the next time out.

Not going to say that I’m perfect at maintaining this organization track, especially given that I have to out myself at the beginning of this post as having to get my butt in gear…but having a consistent method to use is helpful. What’s your best advice? What system do you use? I’d love to know…

Like magic, at the end of my cleaning up and out, I had a stockpile of empty legal pads…which, anyone who knows me knows this is like a winning lottery ticket for my inner writer. I live by these buggers. Lookie how many I managed…

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…and I still have 2 in my bag, 1 a running ‘to do’ list, and the second in the writing section of my divider with collated notes from the other tablets so they are almost all in one place. DO NOT want to be me if I misplace that bad boy!! To think that these were also in my bag in various stages of use explains why that bugger was getting so freaking heavy.

So, now I have no excuses. I know where all the pieces are once again and can grab what I need, when I need it. Guess I better get the fire stoked, it’s time for this engine to roll out!