Writing is my first love but third career. My first career was as a financial/strategic planning analyst and business consultant. My next, while I was home and the kids were young, was as a small business/database/QuickBooks consultant. Now that the kids are older, it’s writing.
When my daughter was a baby, I decided to finally do what I’d been wanting to do for years and work as a freelance writer. I wasn’t doing it as a hobby. I wanted to do it as a business. Because of that, it only made sense to me to make a plan. I was surprised by how many writers were surprised by my plan. Their take on it was that you couldn’t plan for something over which you have no control. My take on it was that I could at least try to wind up where I wanted to be.
It’s been 12 years and I still make a plan. It’s not a signed-in-stone plan. It’s more like a master overview. It helps me to stay on top of the things I need to do to keep a good balance of work. It helps me to have some idea of what I hope to accomplish. I’ve been teased about my plan, having several people point out that my plan is highly mutable – often winding up with versions all the way up through G or F. That’s okay. To me a plan is a work in progress. A road map to use and modify as conditions change.
Do you plan? How does it work for you?
I’ve noticed that each assignment I have is actually a project. I’ve also noticed that juggling these projects is stressful and worrisome. The key for me has been to view these assignments as entities that require planning in more than one dimension. I’ve ultimately come to view the process as a variation on the 3-D chess played on Star Trek. It makes sense since each element of each project impacts each element of each project.
To get a handle on everything I’ve tried a number of things that did not work. They didn’t work because everything wasn’t all in one place or because everything was on a computer and I wasn’t at a computer or because it was all on paper but there was no way to see it all by date. You get what I mean, I’m sure.
So now I have gone to an admittedly ridiculous length and it is working! Beautifully! I found these Action Day project planning planners at Staples. They are perfect! I have one that is large and not bound. This one I’m using for my book proposal because I know it is going to be an ongoing project with a lot of detail. For my blog, I’m using a smaller, spiral bound version. It allows me to plan my posts and see what’s next.
The final step? I put what I have to do each day in my Filofax that is with me all the time. It sounds like a lot of work – okay, it is a lot of work – but for the first time in years, I know my projects are planned out and I know I’m using my time wisely day-to-day.