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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Planner Hacks for Lazy Writers

If you struggle to stay on top of all the day-to-day tasks that build up around writing and publishing, you’re not alone. The digital age might have promised a lot of planning and organizational advances, but many of us still prefer to stick to pen-and-paper tools like the planner.

There’s no one way to keep a planner. You can divide your time in months, weeks, or individual days as you see fit. There are, however, a number of ways you can optimize your planner to stay on top of whatever your schedule throws at you.

My planner from last week.

Here are just a few of the tricks you can implement to get the most of your planner. Stay tuned for a custom weekly planner sheet at the end designed specifically for self-published authors!

1. Stickers

I get it; stickers are corny. But they’re also incredibly helpful. Many planner stickers offer brightly colored reminders, additional note space, and that satisfying feel when you slip them over paper. Some things never get old.

2. Strategize for success

Have a series of identical minor tasks, like Facebook updates or an email series about your new book? Instead of carving out fifteen minutes per day to keep up with all the little chores, group them together. Schedule emails and updates ahead of time and spend one or two days per month prepping for the next few weeks.

3. Theme your workdays

Whether it’s Social Monday, Typing Tuesday, or Web-researching Wednesday, many writers pick themes for weekdays to stay on top of a complicated and ever-evolving schedule. This way you don’t have to inch forward on a dozen different projects but can throw yourself into a new one every day, staying refreshed and energized in the meantime.

4. Use the entire buffalo

Many planners include different pages for weeks and months, and if yours is so fortunate, take advantage of it. Use your month planner to look at upcoming weeks in a glance and strategize accordingly. Sync the schedule to the week, and then build your days around getting the most possible done.

5. Tiny tasks are still tasks

Reviewing stats about your recent giveaway and checking on your cover design process might not take a lot of time, but they still deserve to be listed alongside major tasks. The extra level of accomplishment you’ll feel in completing them will also motivate you to keep going.

6. Track time

There’s a lot you don’t have control over in your life, but you can harness time and use it to your advantage. Working in focussed blocks instead of flying from one task to another will help you keep your head--and take bolder strides forward.

7. Laminate!

If there’s a page in your planner you might want to change or re-use (a daily schedule, checklist, etc.) buy a lamination sheet and a dry-erase marker. That way you can use it all you want without the guilt.

8. Multi-colored pens

You remember those pens from the ‘90s? They’re still handy if you want to color-code various tasks as you write them. You can also buy a variety of pens with different colors if you want a custom selection. My pick? Frixion--these pens are erasable as well and come in handy in all kinds of situations.

9. Washi tape

If you’re extra crafty, Washi tape can be used in a number of ways to brighten your planner. This colorful tape can make great improvised sticky notes to mark important spots and can also line the sides of a page if you wish to color-code individual weeks.

10. Non-writing appointments

If you have a dental appointment next Thursday morning, you might want to make a note of it. Even if your planner is built around your work as an author, outside events can and will change how you work.

11. Plan a break

We all need some time off now and then. If there’s an important or busy day in your schedule or if you want to catch up on much-needed sleep, schedule your time off ahead of time and shift your work around accordingly. When you do take the time off, don’t feel guilty--you already took care of the important work.

12. Color-code it

Stickers, highlighters, pens and crayons! There are many ways to color-code your work throughout the day. Color-coding is one of the most common ways to customize a planner, and there are many different ways to do it. Experiment to find your groove.

13. Try an entrepreneurial planner

All planners are not created equal. If you feel like the standard prints don’t give you the boost you need, it’s time for an upgrade. Entrepreneurial planners have extra slots and spaces geared around balancing work and life and getting the most out of both. As a sample, here’s a free single-week planner I put together for writing and self-publishing. In addition to the usual dates and notes slots, I included a time tracker to use as you see fit and a prioritizing box in the corner.

How do you make the most of your planner schedule? Please share your tips for planner optimization in the comments below or visit my Facebook group for self-publishing fiction writers for further discussion.


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