How do you organise your notes, scribbles, thoughts and things ‘to be read later?’ If like me you regularly end up with a stash of unread emails and bookmarks of useful articles, never to be found again, or you spend an entire afternoon searching for an image or a snippet of information that is critical to the scene your’re writing, then read on. I made a commitment to get myself ‘organised’ and for that I needed some help. Of course, like most things in life, it’s easier to say than do and maintenance is the key (that’s my next commitment) but here are the ‘devices’ I use to try and keep me on top of things.
I don’t like reading on screen. I do use Kindle but I don’t find it as satisfying as a book, try as I might. However, I know I have to save the trees and in the past few years I’ve drastically cut the amount of printing. Nowadays it’s purely for editing and that’s the last edit. I do so much more on the laptop and more so the iPad as it’s portable and handy to carry around. So when I come across an article or blog I don’t get distracted by it there and then. I save it to Pocket and read at my leisure. Usually after lunch, and in the summer sat outside in the sunshine. It’s really easy to do and I have added a weekly ‘catch up on Pocket’ item to my list of ‘things to do’, which brings me to my next trade tool.
I love lists, as my poor badgered husband will tell you. I love writing down things to do and even more I love ticking them off with a red pen. It’s a hangover passed on from my father. But it’s a useful habit, IF you regularly review your lists and carry out said items! I use Wunderlist to save competitions with deadlines, things I want to post on Social Media and other deadlines I set (and constantly reset). It’s a web and app based tool and again is really easy to use.
This is a fairly new system for me and I’ve still not really got into it. I mentioned bookmarks earlier? I used to save them to Chrome but it just got unmanageable and I could never find anything. In addition, I use several devices during the day and wanted to access bookmarks from a central place. So this is what I’ve resorted to. It gives lots of additional features like annotation, adding notes and I use it for articles I want to refer back to use in my writing, interested research sites and recipes!
This is purely for specific Works in Progress. Here I keep all my research notes, images and other stuff relating to a particular project. It’s actually in a bit of a mess at the moment, but imagine an A4 binder with tabbed divisions. I do refer to it, especially during the editing process. I could keep it on Scrivener but I like to reserve that for the actual writing.
And finally, My Diary
I couldn’t survive without a paper based diary. I love journals almost as much as I love pens! But here I document all sorts of reminders (that I don’t put in Wunderlist) including personal ones, so at a glance I know what I need to do (and often ignore it!). I also use it to record my words written progress and any tidbits I come across and don’t want to get distracted for follow up later. I also doodle quite a lot!
Trouble is I think I love organising so much I spend hours and days at it and then wonder where all the time has gone!
So what are your favourite tools for organising your writing and personal life? What couldn’t you do without? (I’d definitely choose my diary over everything.)