Anyone who knows me well is aware that I have “To Do” lists I refer to on a daily basis.
I’ve used everything from notebooks, to pads with printed numbers, to journals, to pages I created and printed to put into a binder, to random lists, to sticky notes. I frequently read books on being better organized.
Some years ago, I realized Excel files were the most flexible format for keeping my To Do’s current and useful, and I’ve run my life by them ever since. (*See footnote below.)
The Key is being flexible. Unlike writing something on paper, using an Excel file makes changing the day to do the task very, very easy. Even though I try to live by the rule that everything will take at least 3 to 4 times longer to do than I think it will, I still tend to consistently underestimate how much times things will take, so I change those dates way too often!
So, given that I’m likely being over-optimistic, these are the things I’d really, really, REALLY like to get done this year.
Because I also know that just having goals without having concrete plans leads to goals often not being hit, I will also write down my plan (to date) to hit each goal.
Note: I’m using my goals for 2014 as an example.
During November 2012 and 2013, and April 2013, I used NaNoWriMo to write roughly 120,000 words of my third mystery, which was originally titled Opaque Rays. (Note: that was later changed to Shadow of a Butterfly: The Case of the Harmless Old Woman). Which meant, I had most of a first draft completed. So my most urgent goal was to complete the first draft, and then get the second draft written.
(You can see my mysteries at my J. A. Menzies site.)
Starting in 2004, I’ve been slowly working on a memoir, which has the working title LoveChild: Life Lessons from a former “ugly duckling.”
If you’d like to catch a glimpse of what LoveChild will be like, you can read my award-winning true story, “The Diamond Ring”,” which is published in the anthology Hot Apple Cider.
A few years ago, at a grandchild’s urging, I wrote a children’s fantasy, which should be roughly 50,000 words when completed. It’s working title is The Misadventures and Tribulations of Princess Persnickety and Stefan the Stableboy. I need to finish editing it and get it published. (You can see the first draft of my opening here.)
I have a ton of materials for writers that I’ve taught over the years, at writers’ conferences, all-day workshops, and classes at Redeemer College and Tyndale University. I’ve begun posting a few things, but I have so much more that could be made available.
(By the way, I have a whole site for writers – http://www.writewithexcellence.com.)
I’m working with Marguerite Cummings to get the Discussion Guide for Hot Apple Cider edited and published in both print and e-book formats. The deadline is the end of January. The Discussion Guide is intended to be used by book clubs or small groups who are reading Hot Apple Cider.
Some years ago, I wrote and published five coming-of-age books. One of my most urgent goals is to get them updated and published both as e-books and with new covers as print books. These books include the Young Adult Circle of Friends series and the New Adult standalone In Time of Trouble.
And then, of course, there are all the blogs I want/need to write, and the reviews I’ve promised a few people, and—well—if you’re a writer, you know how it is. Plus, none of my writing goals here actually talk about marketing, which of course is a whole other ball game!
* In case you’ve never thought of using an Excel file to track your to do list, here are the headers on mine:
By the way, in order to enable sorting, I use numbers whenever possible.
To determine by jobs for each day, I sort by: Area#; Month; Date; Time; Order; Urgency (for things not yet given a date)
However, I can also sort by area, urgency, and so forth.