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Daily planning makes a productive writer

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Tools & Strategies

The best writing tool I have is the full-size 2-page per day daily calendar that greets me every morning. It captures my daily to-do list, my yearly and monthly goals and their progress, my daily purchases, sudden notes or thoughts, and my actual work done that day. Daily planning helps me focus. Using my daily calendar keeps me productive and on track.

My daily calendar

Do you need a big desk-sized calendar like mine? No. For years I used the smaller 5″x8″ size because I was very mobile going back and forth to work, attending writers meetings, conferencees, and critique group meetings. I would also do a lot of cafe writing, too. So the smaller size was much more convenient; however, I always used the 2-page per day type. I’ve found the more detailed my entries, the more tasks I recorded, the more productive I became.

Keep your organization simple

Over the years I’ve tried just about every organization tool that exists from online software to sticky notes and pocket pads. In that time I’ve learned that a few simple actions can make or break a day for the working writer.

  1. Have your day already planned when you get to your desk at the beginning of your work day.
  2. Plan the day the night before whenever possible. List all the tasks for the next day before you go to bed.
  3. Write out all goals and tasks. Don’t rely on a mental list.
  4. Break all major goals into specific and concrete action tasks.
  5. Make sure each task is one single action that can be done in one day.
  6. Select 3-5 tasks that can and should be done the next day.
  7. Prioritize those tasks.
  8. Do any tasks that must be completed that day first.
  9. Cross off a task or mark it complete before moving on to the next task.
  10. Be flexible but strive to finish at least 3-5 tasks in one day.
  11. At the end of the day’s work, review the daily task list. Move tasks not completed to the next day.
  12. Capture all tasks for the next day and write them down so they are ready for the next work day.

These simple activities help me stay focused and keep me moving forward. What do you do?


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