AFTER THE STORY IS RELEASED

In your notes file (I explain what I put in that file later), I recommend you immediately input these items for easy reference as soon as you can after release of your work (hint—copy this list directly into your notes file and fill in the needed info). (Another hint, put each item on a separate line so you can double or triple click to copy it when needed instead of using your mouse or touchpad to capture it):

First put in the final word count.

Kindle

  • Price
  • ASIN: number
  • Date published
  • URL, regular and one shortened

Paperback

  • Price
  • ISBN-13 number
  • ISBN-10 number
  • Date published
  • URL(s), regular and one shortened for each store

Hardcover

  • Price
  • ISBN-13 number
  • ISBN-10 number
  • Date published
  • URL(s), regular and one shortened for each store

Short Story

  • Name of the publication
  • Date published
  • URL, regular and one shortened
  • Amount earned

For All

  • Long description.
  • One paragraph description, no longer than 1,000 words.
  • Another 500-word description.
  • A short, snappy “elevator pitch” you can use for ads and brochures. Maybe make up more than one.

When all this is in one place and you ask for a review, do an ad, have a sale or anything that needs quick access to these items, you’ll always know where they are. You can easily copy and paste where needed.

After you do all this, be sure to update the information on your website about your new publication and announce it to all your social media.

I use a “notes” document for quick reference while writing each story or novel. It contains:

  • At the top, space to put in ideas I have as I go and places I want to make changes later.
  • For both short stories and novels, a character name chart with first and last names in different columns so I can sort by first letter to be sure I’m not using first letters too often, their descriptions, and other important info about them. I fill this chart in as I go.
  • A timeline chart for novels with: Chapter #, Day of week, Time of day, Location, and chapter Summery. I fill these columns in when I finish each chapter. This can also be used for longer short stories, especially if the timeline is important.
  • Maps and other visual aids.
  • Research (I don’t do a whole lot—if I did more, this would be in a separate file with document names for each category).

Doing all of this as you go will save you time in the long run. And the file will be all set up for you to add the details of the story’s publication.

 

 

 

FOUR QUICK TIME-SAVING TIPS YOU MAY NEVER HAVE CONSIDERED BEFORE
  1. Have only as many credit cards you need—one personal, one business. Think of all the time you’ll save when not dealing with more. The only exception would be for a store card or two where you visit at least once a month and get special offers and discounts for using that card.
  1. When preparing meals, do it near the sink to throw peelings into the disposal and put a trash can right next to you for other trash. If you can’t easily move your can, use a bowl to throw stuff in to be emptied later.
  1. Tickler file at home. If you don’t have much going on every month, just make a file folder for each month. Have a calendar in there that shows birthdays and other days you want to send out cards. Put the cards in that folder when you buy them. Stash tickets, invitations, letters you need to answer and anything else that you want to do in a particular month. I do that and keep a Google calendar on my computer for a quick glance to see what’s coming up, like doctor appointments. Using both the file and the calendar, I am usually on top of everything.
  1. Have a box (about shoe-box size) next to where you store your purses. When you want to change bags, put everything into the box and sort through it to arrange the new purse.
WHAT WOULD TINA RECOMMEND ABOUT OVERWHELMING CLUTTER?

She’d say, “Take it easy. With baby steps.”

• Pick an area that needs de-cluttering. The corner of a room. Your home office. A closet.
• Discard or put away two items. Then stop.
• Discard or put away two items every day from now on (okay, take the weekend off, or at least Sunday).
• If you’re on a roll one day and feel like doing more and have the time, go ahead until you want to stop.
• BUT, the next day, discard or put away two more items. No resting on your laurels.
• Repeat until done.

Then you can pick another area to work on.

To keep the clutter permanently gone from the areas you’ve worked on, be sure to discard or put away any items that have accumulated in that spot before you go to bed every night. After a while this will become such a habit that you won’t be able to go to bed without having everything put away.

This is how I do it. I have two hot spots. Home office and kitchen. I make sure all surfaces are clear before I head off to bed every night. The rest of the house I keep up with as I use the space—the closet, for example, or the table next to my chair.

I hope this will help anyone who has trouble with excess clutter. Let me know how it goes if you use this system. And if you have any other tips, please leave a comment.

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COSTS OF BEING DISORGANIZED

Do you ever think about the many costs of being disorganized? Here are quite a few. There are probably some I’ve missed.

FINANCIAL:

  • Uncashed checks.
  • Unclaimed insurance payments.
  • Unused coupons.
  • Late fees on bills.
  • Late fees for conference registrations.
  • Missed errors on your bank statements you forgot to look over.
  • Rebates not sent for on time.
  • Business expenses not claimed for company reimbursement.
  • Business expenses not reimbursed by company not taken as a tax deduction.
  • Money spent for a storage unit.
  • Losing track of items and having to buy replacements.

TIME:

  • Looking for lost items.
  • Being interrupted and then getting back on task.
  • No systems for handling mail and email.
  • Sifting through items to find the one you want—too much clutter.

EMOTIONAL:

  • Stress when you can’t find something while searching.
  • Time lost for inability to find things after you find it (if you do).
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • A feeling that others will judge you for being disorganized.
  • Uneasiness when people drop in on you.
  • Depression.

SOCIAL:

  • Old friends drop off when you miss one too many meetups or are continuously late.
  • You don’t invite people into your office or over to your house because of the clutter.
  • Your loved ones complain.
  • A loved one stops interacting with you through divorce or just distancing him or herself.

Now flip all the above to see how correcting the behavior will benefit you. You can have more time to relax and enjoy life, and you can feel better about yourself if you’re organized.

DO WRITERS STILL NEED PRINOUTS?

In the age of the computer, do we still need to print stuff out? Well, maybe. If you have a good memory and back up often, maybe not. However, if your memory is iffy and you go for months without backing up, probably.

Two things I always print out and keep on my computer, too: contracts and anything to do with finances.

Contracts because even those of us with good memories may forget where the heck we stored a particular contract on our computers. I don’t have many contracts, so I simply have a file folder labeled, you guessed it, “contracts.” On the computer, though, I store the contract with everything else I have about the story or book, such as the actual document in different formats, a notes file, etc. Also with contracts, I like to read them over in printed form and mark them up.

Financial records because I keep them by year in a folder. I make copies for my accountant at tax time, and they are available if Uncle Sam ever comes calling. So, this is a convenience. And of course, some stuff still just comes in snail mail format, so it’s not on the computer to begin with.

Manuscripts, I  used to print them all out and had a physical file for each one. When we moved to the motorhome, with several 80,000-word manuscripts and about eighty short stories written, having everything in print simply took up too much room. What I had already printed out, I put in our storage unit. But I had a laptop with plenty of memory, so I stopped most of the printing and physical filing and worked out a good system on the computer.

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Notes and Research are also now kept on the computer.

Submission Trackers used to be kept in two different places. One submission tracker was in each physical file folder for the work. And a notebook had printed-out submission guidelines in alphabetical order with a tracker of what was sent to that publication. At the front of the notebook I had a form for each story sent out, date, and response. Now all this info is kept in my computer.

Are you still printing everything out? Some things out; some not? Do you have good systems in place or just wing it?

WHAT TO SAVE

Money, of course. The more, the better, in most cases. But other paper? That comes in the mail, that comes in the door with your purchases, that comes to your front porch as newspapers and flyers?  In most cases, less is better.

Here are some quick thoughts:

PAPER: Get rid of as much as you can, as fast as you can. Go through the mail as soon as possible, discarding everything  you don’t need to keep, and filing away the rest, or handle it however it needs to be handled (write a check, make a phone call, etc.) If a newspaper is more than a week old, you might glance at the headlines, then recycle it. Magazines? Give them a month, two at the most. Have a small folder for receipts so you can always find the one you’re looking for to make a return or a complaint about a purchase. I like the folders that have monthly date separators. Save them by month, and if you need one, you may remember the month you bought the article and can just go through those to find it.

CLOTHING: Figure out how many of each type you need: Tops, bottoms, dresses, suits, underwear, shoes, hose/socks, hats, handbags. Get rid of everything you no longer wear or use, or haven’t worn in one year, unless it’s a special occasion item you may wear again, but limit yourself to only a very few of those. Now shop—fill in the blanks. You’ve decided you want twenty tops and bottoms and kept twenty tops but have only fourteen skirts or slacks to go with them? Even it up to your ideal count. Once at your ideal count for all items, if you buy something new, throw out or give away the equivalent item that is either the oldest, least used, or shabby. Your closet will thank you. Your sleepy self will thank you in the mornings when you’re getting dressed, especially if you arrange your closet by item.

KNICKKNACKS: Tired of washing, dusting, or otherwise cleaning them? No, you don’t have to throw away anything you truly love. What you do is put some things out, sparsely—no more than three items on a table, for example, and if it’s a small table, one item will do. Put the rest away in a special storage box or cabinet. Every so often, exchange the items for something in your storage area.

PANTRY ITEMS: First arrange them all by type (canned goods, baking supplies, etc.). Line them up so you can see what you have. As with the clothing, determine how much of each item you always want to have on hand. Stick with that number. It’s easiest to just pick a number for every canned item—for example, four of one kind of soup, four tomato sauce, four tomato paste, four canned mixed fruit, four canned tuna. You get the idea. At a glance, you can tell what’s getting low when you make out your shopping list. Do the same type of organization in your refrigerator. If you have room, even store those things that need to be there after opened. This way, again, you can see at a glance that you have an extra and don’t need to get more instead of checking the pantry. The exception is, of course, great sales items. You might put them in a special area, using up what you already have first, then checking that area and restocking your regular shelves before buying more. But if you do this, you have to remember what you have stashed away somewhere else. Or you can keep a list of those items right in the pantry or on the inside of the door.

I think you get the idea. Look at each area of your home and decide how you can arrange it so it’s more organized and it will stay that way with little effort.

QUICK CLEAN ANYTHING

Need to clean up the kitchen, bathroom, refrigerator, your office? Here’s the best way to do any clean-up job quickly:

  1. Put everything away, or pull everything out of what you want to clean (like the refrigerator).
  2. Start at the highest point, and dust or wipe everything down, circling the area if it’s large, like a living room or bedroom, or starting at one end of a long space like the laundry room or the bathroom and moving to the end.
  3. Clean the floors—spot clean as necessary, and do a thorough job on a routine basis.

Sounds simple and easy when you break it down like this, doesn’t it? Since I sit a lot of the time on my computer, I break up jobs like these just the way I have them listed above. It doesn’t take more than ten minutes to straighten up a room in preparation to dust it or wipe things down. Except for possibly the kitchen, it doesn’t take much more than ten minutes to dust or wipe. For the kitchen, I sometimes break it into two sessions. Same for the floors.

And if everything is put away after it’s used, you can even pretty much skip #1 except when cleaning out something.

Another way to tackle keeping everything clutter-free and clean is to do one type of job in those ten minutes. Dust as many rooms as you can in ten minutes, go back to your sit-down job, then do another ten minutes after another hour has passed. Like this: I do the bathroom and kitchen on Wednesdays, I dust mop the bare floors and dust all the furniture on Fridays (I take Thursdays and Sundays off), and I vacuum the whole house and wash the floors on Saturday. This way you only get out your supplies for each job once a week instead of getting them all out every day to do, say two rooms a day.

The main points: Keep everything picked up and put away. And spot clean every room every day—counters in kitchen and baths, spots on the floor, handprints around doorknobs and so on. When you see something dirty or out of place, take a moment to fix it.

NEED TO MAKE A QUICK REMINDER TO YOURSELF?

If you’re on the computer without your notebook handy and have a brainstorm, send yourself an email. Really. You can deal with whatever it was when you have time, then delete the email, like crossing off a chore on your to-do list.

Make sure the subject line clues you into what the email is about. For example, if you are writing a book called UNTITLED, put the title in the subject line, and a few words about what part of UNTITLED you had the brainstorm about. For example, “UNTITLED, clue in the ransom note.”

I love little tricks like this. How about you? Have any you’d like to share?

STASHING IT

Here’s my system for organizing my stuff when away from home out shopping or doing errands.

Do you forget the shopping list? Can’t find your keys? Have to dig through a huge purse for your wallet? And does this sort of thing annoy the heck out of you?

It used to annoy me. I have learned some tricks I want to share with you.

I always wear something with a pocket or two and carry a large tote-type purse with a smaller purse inside. Since I also wear glasses off and on (cheaters and prescription sunglasses for distance), I have a special around-the-neck eyeglass case for those. It even has a zippered side pocket where I could put my credit card and driver’s license and some cash, cell phone, and car key, if that’s all I wanted to take into stores.

But why the pockets? If I make a list, it goes in my pocket right away. I never forget to take it into the store with me. The trick with that, though, is to have the habit of emptying your pocket when you get home so the list isn’t washed with the clothing. I often just stick the receipts I get in my pocket, as well. Then when I empty it, there’s the receipt, ready to file away, not stuffed in my purse where it will get lost.

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I use a very small wallet-like purse to take into the stores which can sit at the top inside of a larger tote or in an outer pocket. I carry the car key, credit card, license, library card, some cash and a few other items I might need in a store. I rarely use my cell phone when I’m out, so it’s in its own case inside the tote. (It would also fit in the case I have for my eyeglasses, if I want to use that.) I have a second wallet (old one) for all the stuff I might need but probably won’t such are store cards, some extra cash, some change, postage stamps, etc. This way if my small purse gets lost or stolen while I’m out of the car, I have some extra money for an emergency. The big bag also carries a small notebook, my checkbook, pain killers, a thumb drive with my stuff backed up (in case the house burns down when I’m gone—LOL), and other miscellaneous stuff.

The point is, I have a system. Do you? Please tell us about it in the comments.

BE LOOPY

Two great ways to increase your productivity. One is to arrange your work space so that work flows around you, if not in a loop, at least in a semi-circle. This works for desks, kitchens, organizing a bathroom and for whole rooms, especially offices.

We’ll use an office as an example since so many of us have one, or at least a workspace that with good organization can help you speed your way through your tasks. A good arrangement for an office is to have anything incoming near the door, preferably into your inbox. There should be an empty space by your inbox for you to take something out of the box and place it on your work surface. Then, in a line, have your set-up to deal with paper. If it needs to be filed, either file it right away, or place it in a folder to be filed later. If it needs to be answered, like a letter, either answer it right away, or put in in another file folder. If it’s a bill, either pay it right away, or put it in a place you look at often. A red folder would work for this really well. If you want to read it later, have a box to put reading material into. A standing file holder on your desk will help you sort your inbox, then handle like tasks all at one time. Getting up to file a stack of papers, for example, or getting out the checkbook, envelopes and stamps for several bills can be more efficient than doing one at a time in a mixture.

Use this line-up for your bathroom. When you get up in the morning do you have to open five drawers and two cabinets to get everything out you need to deal with your face and hair? Put everything in a box and just pull it out every morning, then put it away. Simple. And easier to keep that one box clean inside than a bunch of drawers and cabinets. In your kitchen, put baking supplies and ingredients together, pots and pans near the stove, dishes close to the table where you eat, and so on. Remember the trick of creating a loop and see if it will help you arrange your workflow.

The second way to get loopy is to arrange your actual work into a mental loop. Get used to one thing following another. If you’re a writer, you write, then edit, then publish, then market. If you have written and published more than one book and plan to do more, it will help to get into a loop every day of doing each of those things. You might be writing a new book, editing an old one, getting yet another one ready to publish, including submitting, (either by yourself or with your publisher) and need to market everything you have going. So, when you’re fresh, you write new material. When you finish with that you always either edit, publish or market something else. Then pick the next thing and the next thing.

Most jobs can be broken down like this. Plan your days around the most important thing you have to do and work in the others in a special order that will work for you, mentally and physically. Do the hardest things when you are at your peak, and the easiest things when your energy lags.

Getting loopy gives your work and your day a sort of rhythm that eases stress (deciding what to do all the time and hunting for stuff or jumping from one thing to another is stressful) and helps you accomplish more.