Something Playful to Help You Organize Your Writing Stuff
Let’s Talk About My Favorite Organizing Tool.
My favorite organizing tool invites experimentation. I have relied on it + enjoyed playing with it since 2006.
It does make my heart pitter-patter so.
If you’re an organizing tool, it can be really hard to hold my attention. I have always had a lot of balls in the air, plates spinning, and shiny new ideas pulling me in different directions–and that’s just my writing + creative projects.
What works to keep me on track one day ends up being replaced the next. I think and work in all kinds of visual structures. Bullet points, doodles, mind maps, Venn Diagrams, alliteration, numbers, colors — I use them all. I need them all.
I used to think I cycle through visual cues because there is something wrong with me. I worried that arranging and rearranging blocks and columns was more about OCD tendencies than strategy.
When I gave up feeling ashamed about constantly shifting structures, I realized I had been doing something very important to my mental health and professional success.
In order to create and advertise all the events, activities, clients, and workshops I produce every month, I have to be able to track what’s next and what’s now.
I have to be amused. Engaged. Enticed.
I need to have my eye pulled over to something shiny and stimulating so I remember to begin or continue or finalize. Dates and deadlines have to be eye-catching and engaging. Bright, colorful, and novel.
But I really don’t have the time to maintain anything elaborate, as much as those OCD tendencies I mentioned earlier drool over the prospect of developing complicated, colorful, perfect systems.
I have tried this before, in honor of said tendencies, and all I have to show for each sixteen-hour session of obsessive focus on a Sunday is a bunch of wasted Sundays. I don’t tend to look again at the results of tight, compulsive arranging and rearranging once I’ve had a full night’s sleep.
In short, I need my organizing tool to grab my attention, engage my mind, and inspire action. And I need it to be easy. Oh, and I need it to be malleable.
Remember what I said about thinking and working in all kinds of visual structures? That personal insight is the foundation of my love for the magic of the simple whiteboard.
The simple whiteboard has been the most effective, attractive, fail-proof time management and organizing tool for me for about 15 years now. That’s pretty good for someone who used to cycle through other organizing tools every three months.
However — and this is important — to make sure the connection between your whiteboard and your creativity is strong, the personal touch is paramount.
Store-bought whiteboards from office supply sources stifle me. I reject them, vehemently. There is nothing appealing to me in that mass-produced, white sheet of yawn.
So what do I do instead? I’ll share my tweak on the classic whiteboard next week. I’ll tell you how it works and why it works, and how you probably have everything you need on hand.
While you wait, I invite you to choose a handful of colorful dry erase pens and start playing with what you’ve got. Got a window? A mirror? These smooth glass surfaces work in a pinch.
My job is to keep you on track to achieving your goals, your dreams, and your intentions, reminding you when you feel intimidated or discouraged that you are indeed moving forward into your fully formed creative identity.
A decent coaching session takes about an hour, 90 minutes if we’re digging deep.You have your own style for organizing thoughts and plans. If you have yet to figure out what it is, or you are looking for fresh ideas, I would love to work with you to find what works. Meanwhile, try this.