1. Carve out a time each week for organizational admin work.
Which task on your plate is the quickest to spiral out of control? Bookkeeping? Email? Reclaiming your workspace after a long day of research? Schedule a regular maintenance session to keep up with the accumulation. Even if it’s just a 15-minute window every Friday where you clear your desk of all the clutter that’s accumulated throughout the workweek, you’ll avoid becoming overwhelmed if you have a dedicated regular appointment on the calendar to help you stay organized.
2. Choose dedicated places to store important items – and utilize them.
Losing things wastes time and energy and leaves us feeling hopelessly frustrated. Start by making a list of 10 items in your workspace that are essential to your craft and career – and preferably ones that don’t already have a set resting place in a folder, drawer, or desktop corner. Where can you find good, safe homes for these items? If you’ve struggled to find spots for them in the past, what do you think was impractical about that prior home? Is it an item that gets used a lot and needs to be within arm’s reach, or is it an item that you utilize infrequently enough that it got buried by other things? If you’re out of shelf, drawer, and desk space, are there organizational products (folders, filing cabinets, hanging shelves) you can purchase to help make more room? Alternatively, what’s taking up room in your workspace that you can find a home for elsewhere?
3. Don’t neglect your digital files, either.
Think of your computer as an entire room of its own. Is it organized to your liking? How long does it typically take you to find something? Scheduling computer clean-up sessions a few times a year will help prevent clutter from accruing in your desktop, documents, email, and other key digital locations. (And once everything’s to your liking, be sure to back up your data so these newly organized files won’t be lost forever in a crash.)
4. Try to accomplish tasks in batches.
Instead of scheduling book promotion social media posts every day, schedule an entire week’s worth at a time. Send out a round of follow-up emails instead of firing off one or two when you think of them. Fill out multiple invoices at once since you already have the template open. This won’t just save time and preserve focus as you switch from one task to another; it’ll also be one less thing on your to-do list to forget later in the week.
5. Forgo boring spreadsheets and tracking documents.
Writers are wonderfully creative. Why shouldn’t your organizational tools match? Embrace colored cells or eye-catching fonts as you set up your submission tracker. Purchase a beautiful notebook to log your hours in. Use the good pens for everyday note-taking. If there’s anything you can think of to make organization feel more pleasant and less like drudgery, you should absolutely take advantage of it.