Are you an author who feels overwhelmed when faced with all the marketing required to be successful? An entrepreneur juggling multiple projects? An adult learner finishing your degree or working on a second degree part-time? Read on, my friend!
My business, Maximum Author Impact, is about helping authors create the foundation for their online business through web design services and learning opportunities. It’s my part-time job, though, because I also work 37 ½ hours a week for a university. Keeping myself organized is key, and because I have great ambitions to turn MAI into a full-time adventure, I have many projects on my list. It’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed sometimes.
Here’s my method. I’ll be specific about the tools I use, but feel free to substitute what works best for you. I’m indebted to D’vorah Lansky of Build a Business with Your Book for recommending this system, and to Pamela Fitros of Boldly Bald Women for reminding me about “chunking” as a way to get through tasks.
You can replicate these steps with an Outlook calendar, but that hasn’t worked for me. I need actual physical paper, despite how techie I am in other areas of my life. The planner I use is the Planner Pad, personal version, because of the condensed, two-page-per-week format. The personal version is the size of a tablet, and fits nicely into purses with a tablet section. It sells for $27.99, and you can choose your start date from October, January or April. I chose the green version; black and loose leaf versions are also available.
I bought a pack of Sharpie Accent Liquid Pen Style Highlighters from Amazon—10 beautiful colors in a plastic case. I paid $12.05 for them.
3. List the categories into which you wish to divide your work, and assign a color to each.
- Light blue – coaching calls, courses, webinars, learning
- Yellow – personal: hair appointments, doctor appointments, fun (but also housework), dinner, time with my husband
- Pink – web work (clients)
- Purple – business (marketing for me)
- Green – Samford (my day job)
- Dark blue – church activities
- Salmon – email and Facebook (and other social media)
4. Look over your day, and indicate the unavoidable and inescapable commitments you have.
For me that was my day job, so I highlighted 7 am to 3 pm in green. Technically I get to work at 6:15 or 6:30 am, so I squeezed in a half hour or email and Facebook on the calendar. Sunday School and church attendance are also noted on Sunday, as will be choir practice when we start up again. Personal time is important as well, so I marked time in yellow for meals, Friday nights hanging out with my husband, and time on Saturday for friends. You’ll also notice I gave myself some downtime after work each day, about a half hour to decompress. I confess I was a bit appalled at how little time I actually had left for my business activities.
Because I do work for clients, I marked time for that in pink, one day a week. The other days and Saturday morning are available for marketing, for which I use a purple marker. I include in those activities writing blog posts, recording podcasts, etc. I don’t always know when I’ll have work to do for clients, though, so any purple category can become web work, and if there’s no web work, it becomes my marketing time.
6. Make a master list of your current projects on a separate piece of paper.
As shown in the picture, I’m working on a blog post (this one!), a free webinar, a course, a podcast episode, and communication with my opt-in list via a newsletter. I printed the projects, leaving space underneath each.
(I wrote them in cursive, with stars as bullets to make it fun) This step is the one I’ve tended to omit in the past. I’d write down on my to-do list, “Write blog post,” and wonder why I ran out of time and didn’t get it finished.
I use the middle space in the planner, under the heading “Daily Things-To-Do.” I love being able to check off each item as I complete it. At the end of the week I can look back, see which projects have been complete, and check them off my master project list. Be sure to include time on the weekend or Monday to start the process over again.
I think this system will work out for me, but I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments below! Happy New Year!