You’d think that planning for maximum efficiency would be an easy thing for us 20- and 30-something-year-old humans to do.
You’d also think getting your dog to stop throwing up weird pieces of coconut husk in your bedroom would also be easy to do, but alas.
Sometimes life is just hard.
(Not that I’m speaking from personal experience on that coconut husk thing, of course. NOTHING gross ever happens here in the tropics.)
It’s taken me a full six years of freelancing on my own to find my perfect planning workflow, and at the end of the day, it’s mind-numbingly easy. Yet the human brain has a way of making even the glaringly obvious seem complex … so I thought I’d pass this writing planning system on in the hopes that you, too, can schedule like a boss and skip that whole six years thing.
It didn’t take me long to figure out how to use Google Calendar.
It did take me a long time to figure out how to use it so that it actually worked for me. Here’s the secret: forget about events.
Yes, I said it. Don’t use the events function. Unless you really rely on the little reminders GCal sends to your inbox, it’s pretty much useless. You can’t check anything off, and it’s really annoying to get in there and tweak anything IMHO.
Instead, use the tasks. If you’re like me, you’re looking at your calendar all damn day anyway, so you don’t need the reminders that pop up. (And if you do, set them in your actual reminders app on your phone.) This means you never have to decide between an event and a task, so you’ve automatically cut down on decision-making. Bueno.
But the real reason this is so awesome? When you put something in as a task, you can check it off. Obviously, you need to include a timing element if you’re not using events, but that’s easy. Just write it like:
11 AM Call with Tina
That means every phone call, appointment and webinar can be attended to at its proper time, then crossed off, and you know it’s been taken care of.
Goodbye, Forgotten Events That Cause Total Panic When You Realize Your Mistake at 1 A.M.
I won’t miss you.
Now. You’re not quite done. GCal, unfortunately, doesn’t allow you to prioritize your tasks. Therefore, they’re all sitting there in one long, alphabetized lump. (If you do know how to fix this, email me and let me know because I’d sure like to.)
But maximum efficiency rests on doing your most important tasks first (or at the time that they work best for you), which in turns rests on prioritization. That’s where Apple Notes come in. If you don’t use a Mac, find the analogue. I’m sure there are like six jillion. (Also … what’s wrong with you? If you want to be a writer, get a Mac.)
Once in the Notes app, list out everything you have to do. All of it. Now – stay with me here, this is complicated – switch them around to match your workflow.
Now you know exactly what you have to do that day, and what order to do it in. If you don’t check something off, add it to your GCal for the next day (or whenever). When tasks or events come along, notate them in GCal, not the Notes. Then each morning, make a new note.
Boom. Maximum efficiency.
Hopefully, this helps you with planning more effectively, or at least forge your own lookalike workflow to achieve maximum efficiency.
As for the coconut barf … you’re on your own there.
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