My mind can be a crazy thing. It’s never completely at rest. And it doesn’t handle stillness well. It’s one reason I don’t usually “take a break” even during the RoW80 breaks. I just…can’t. If I’m not doing something with my hands, I have to be occupying my mind somehow. Sometimes, even when I’m doing something with my hands, I have to do something else to occupy the chaos in my head.
And that’s really the best way to describe it…chaos. So many different thoughts bouncing around. What I have to do for the day, whatever story I’m working on, random bits of dialogue that just suddenly pop up. That thing I said a week or month ago that I wished I’d said differently.
About the only way I can control even some of the chaos is by organizing everything. This is the reason I have all my calendars, schedules, and to-do lists. Without them, not only do I not have any focus, but that chaos can feel like it’s drowning me. And that makes it very hard to get anything done. But, when I do have all those in place, my day, and my work, seem to run a lot smoother.
- Calendar: I put all my writing and editing goals/deadlines on a calendar. I used to have a paper one, but I changed things so much, it made it easier to just keep one on the computer. I figure out how much I need to write/edit each week to finish on time. This changes for me as I finish things, usually faster than I figured I would be able to.
- To-do lists: I put just about everything on my daily to-do lists. Not only my writing or editing goals for the day. But also the household chores, reading, and crafting I want to get done. There are some that are on everyday, like washing dishes and prepping dinner. There’s the laundry, which is a different load every day. There are some I only do once a month. But, if any of them don’t make it on the list, it’s unlikely they’ll get done at all.
- More lists: I also have monthly, quarterly, & yearly lists which I make my weekly and daily lists from. Those I update periodically, but it’s the daily ones I really focus on. I organize those by priority. My writing and editing goals, of course, go first. Then, I worry about household chores and social media stuff. After that’s any reading or crafting items I have on my list. I try to work my way down through in order as much as I can. And if I finish everything for the day, I usually move on and get started on the next day’s. Although sometimes I’ll just stop for the day and get some bonus reading in.
- Schedule: I don’t actually write this down. And it kind of goes along with my daily lists. It also goes along with the way I naturally work. Writing new words comes easiest for me first thing in the morning. So, that’s one reason it’s first on my list. Also, it’s when the kids are sleeping, then at school. I find it easier to get other things done when they’re home.
I know this probably makes me look very rigid. And to a point, that’s likely true. But, like I’m sure is the case with most of you, I have a family as well. In my case, that includes a husband and two young children. While they are mostly independent, they still need me at times. Which means there has to be some flexibility. I think one of the reasons these to-do lists work for me is that I understand there’ll be some days I don’t get to everything. Those days I just move those unfinished items to the next day. And at the end of the week, I start fresh again.
I say this in a lot of my posts, but it holds true. You have to do what works best for you. Some may say so much organization will wreck creativity. But without it, I can’t even focus enough to tap into that creativity.
So, if you’re finding your mind is like mine and doesn’t settle down on its own, maybe this is one way you could help it along. It’s certainly not the only way, maybe not even the best way, but maybe it will work for you, too.