Resolve 2013: Embrace My Organizational Style

A note from Jessa: Today author Maggie Jaimeson dives into the mess of my GET ORGANIZED resolution for 2013 and offers her insights. Let’s see how she does… Wait, in the first sentence, she is laughing at me!

art-resolve2013GET ORGANIZED advice from:
Maggie Jaimeson
Author of UNDERTONES

Maggie JaimesonOrganizing the Office 

I have to tell you that I laughed uproariously at the idea of writing a post about getting organized.  Let me give you a description of how I work in my office (much to my husband’s chagrin).

One of the effects of being creative is that I tend to have a lot of ideas and interests. These often blossom into piles of books, papers and projects that build up around my office. Fortunately, they don’t escape from my office too often, because my husband is Mr. Uber-organized and a work-on-one-thing-at-a-time-until-it-is-finished processor. When my stuff occasionally escapes from the office to the dining room table I hear about it, and it is soon back in my office. To make matters worse, because all these ideas have multiple facets and various articles of research associated them, each one becomes it’s own “organized” (read pile) project. Of course, I have to leave everything out where it’s easily accessible because, if I put it away, I may forget about it and that would be horrendous.

When anyone asks how I can work like this, my response is: “This may appear like clutter, but really it is organized chaos. I know where everything is.” Okay you can stop laughing now. Really. The statement is true, at least in the beginning.

So, I admit that while I could never be my husband, at least once or twice a year I notice that my organized chaos has become a black hole and it begins sucking my attention and energy. That’s when I know I really do need to do something about it.  That’s when I take an entire day and go through everything, and put it into folders (usually I scan sticky notes, printed web pages, and hand-writte notes into my computer and then put them into folders). Whatever doesn’t get scanned ends up in the recycling bin. For at least a week following the aversion of black hole doom, everything thinks I’m Ms. Uber-organized. Honestly, that is the extent of my office organizing skills. I’ve learned to simply embrace my organizational style. J

Tracking Book Elements

Because I truly do have a problem with memory, and I’m a write-int-the-mist (panther) kind of writer, it is critical that I have an organized way to track everything I’ve created in a particular novel or series. I do this using a software product called Super Note Card.  I keep a deck of cards containing all my characters. Each card is a character and I record various things about them as I write them: physical characteristics, family and educational/career background, phrasing, GMC, love interest, etc. Another card deck is book chapters, and I include separate cards for 1st Turning Point, 2nd Turning Point, Black Moment. If I’m world building there are usually several decks including Geography, Mythology, Magic, whatever I need. The cool thing about this ver inexpensive software is that you can add or remove decks and cards at any time. You can also rearrange them. So, when I decide that Chapter 6 really needs to be Chapter 2 I simply drag and drop it to the right location.

Super Notecard has really helped with my continuity and, if I have to come up with a Synopsis, I can easily pull together the primary elements from the descriptions on these cards.  Previous to this software, I would take notes and save them in a folder with the book name. The problem is, because my thoughts are random, those files would end up being named note, note2, note3, etc.  And not easy to track or find things.  For me it works perfectly. Your mileage my vary.

Meeting and Event Scheduling/Organizing

Now one thing I am VERY organized about is time. That is because I have virtually no memory. I frequently forget even what day it is. Let’s not even talk about what time it is.  Thank the technology gods for smart phones and electronic calendars or I would be perpetually late or absent. I was an early adopter of the PDA and that has now morphed into the smart phone.

I put EVERY event, deadline, schedule, blog tour, trip, meeting, phone call, birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc. on to a Google calendar that is linked to my phone.  I do it immediately when I commit to whatever the date/time/deadline is.  Depending on the event, I put in various alerts—usually at least two deep. For example, for a meeting that takes me half an hour to drive there, I put an alert two hours before and another one 45 minutes before. The two hours is to make sure I’m awake. The 45 minutes is to make sure I’m actually getting in the car.  Electronic calendaring is an amazing invention and I can count on my cell phone always being wherever I am.  Now, if I could only find a way to remind me I need to charge it before I’m somewhere without an outlet. Hmm…I’m sure I can set up a daily alert for that.

Contact MaggieWebsite | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Another Jessa note: Clearly, getting advice from writers on organizing is going to be like getting advice on dieting from chocoholics. Codependence, anyone? Still, I like the idea of making technology work FOR me for a change. I should make better use of my Google Calendar. Hey, I could start with scheduling this tour! Today (according to my Google Calendar) I’m posting with Paty Jager regarding her resolution on volunteering.

Stops on the “Resolve 2013” tour: January 1-9, 2013

Maggie Jaimeson – Take a Vacation
Jessa Slade – Get Organized
Paty Jager – Volunteerism
Linda Mercury – Creating a Literary (or Creative) Life
Jenna Bayley-Burke – Eat Healthier
Cassiel Knight – No More Procrastination
Cathryn Cade – Take Time for those OTHER Creative Passions
Su Lute – Reduce Stress: Find and Follow Your Bliss
Jamie Brazil – Shrink My Closet

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6 thoughts on “Resolve 2013: Embrace My Organizational Style

  1. Maggie, I had to laugh because what you descibe here is EXACTLY my husband’s type of organization — different software though. He swears he can plunge a hand into the chaos that is his desk and retreive the paper/post-it/credit card reciept/water bill at a moment’s notice. And y’know what? He usually can. I’m a big fan of any organizing software, too.

  2. Maggie, I work in piles too, only they are book project pile, promotion pile, and blog pile. I tend to not like computer programs to keep track of my info. I have notebooks. with all the information in them. That way I can keep it open in front of me all the time while I am writing. I’m old fashioned except for typing on the computer.

    This is going to be fun learning all about everyone!

  3. One bonus to being single — my dog doesn’t say anything about my piles, all over the house. (provided that I don’t care if one of these piles ends up as a good resting place for him). Life is compromise….

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