Monday, November 7, 2011

Listmaker, Listmaker, Make Me A List

by Mindy McGinnis

I’m slightly OCD. It’s one of the qualifications for librarianship.

OK, not really, but I find that the hyper-responsibility side effects are valuable in all three venues of my life—home, work, and writing career.

I could spend every hour of each day on one of these aspects, but that would mean the other two falter and die. The first type of death means that no one in my household eats or has clean clothes. The second would translate into a pile of books on the bookcart and hundreds of cranky, panicked teenagers. The third means no forward motion towards my goal of publication. None. No new blog posts, no networking tweets, no AQC downtime, and definitely no additional word count on the WIP.

None of these things are acceptable.

So I give a little to all three each day, and the only way to keep myself straight on what needs to be done is by taking a very simple, yet highly effective time-management step. I make lists.

I use a Stickies program on my laptop to manage my three-ring circus. The yellow sticky lists my household duties for the day, which I try to manage one thing at a time. Monday is vacuuming, Tuesday dusting, dishes are done every other day and laundry waits for the weekend. The pink sticky directs my attention to the most pressing needs in the workplace, listed by priority. The wall above my desk serves as a big-picture amalgamation of stickies telling me what needs to be accomplished long term.

Interesting genetic factoid: my sister (also a co-worker) pointed out that the wall above our Dad’s desk at the homestead looks exactly the same.

And lastly, my green sticky tells me what I need to be doing in writing-career land. And it doesn’t say—HEY YOU! WRITE A BOOK! There are many ways to keep the literary brain cranking, and I need quiet and uninterrupted stretches of time to nail down that WIP.

So what does the green sticky say?

It has links to various web pages that are helping me out with my research, so that I can easily hit up information during short downtimes. There are reminders about critiques that I need to get back to betas, ideas for blog posts, names of people I want to contact for interviews, and titles of books that I want to read and review.

Sounds like a lot, but all of those little steps are furthering me down the path of my writing career, and they can be addressed during the brief moments during the day that chance sometimes allots to me. I guess in the end that’s the secret to my time-management; knowing to address the little goals during little moments, and constantly reminding myself that the big goal for the evening is to crack out another 1k.

The other secret isn’t such a secret—don’t be lazy.

Sure, I’d rather watch Firefly reruns sometimes, but I’m reminded of a sports t-shirt I had in high school that read—“Whenever you are not practicing, somewhere, your opponent is, and when you meet, s/he will win.”

I might not actually wear a t-shirt that says, “Somewhere another writer wants to watch Firefly too, but they’re writing instead. And they’re published.”

But you get the idea.


vipin kumar said...
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Sophie Perinot said...

Laughed outloud at your picture but WITH you not AT youL

I am not as high tech as you -- no computer stickies program just lists in MS word. My stickies are old fashioned post-its like you use on your wall. Only mine (in at least 4 colors currently) are on my desk blotter around the margins and under my blotter (which is clear so I can see them). I also use color-coded stickies in my research books.

A.M.Supinger said...

“Somewhere another writer wants to watch Firefly too, but they’re writing instead. And they’re published.” <-- I want this t-shirt. I'm not as Stickies savvy as you :(

Good post!

Jemi Fraser said...

I want that t-shirt too! :)

My daughter is a colour-coded list person too. She's so organized and uses lists for everything.

My brain is way to global for that - I wish it was more linear some days, but then I guess it wouldn't be my brain...

Mindy McGinnis said...

Lit - glad you could enjoy the pic of my desk. You're seeing it on a relatively clean day too! But yes, the posties are an EXCELLENT time management helper.

AM - OK, I'll probably have to make that t-shirt up after all... I'll get your order if I do.

Jemi - OK that's 2 orders for the Firefly t-shirt...

Thanks for commenting ladies!

Christopher Hudson said...

I was with you until you got to the 'don't be lazy' part.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Christopher - :) Oh trust me, I *want* to be lazy. And I do have those days where I am. Just ask my minder, RC Lewis.

Matt Sinclair said...

I forgot how to be lazy a long time ago. I think it happened when I forgot how to relax. These things may also have coincided with starting up a coffee habit that continues unabated. As for list, I do them. All the time. To the point of distraction. I include almost everything -- to the point where loved ones might be offended. But what I love most about lists is crossing things off as accomplished.