Simple Little System

Tagged onto my last post, I need help. I’m having a good problem: too many pieces to write for people who want them. I have deadlines that hit various points between now and the end of 2012.

It is nice to be “in demand” in my own way but I’m having a hard time with organization. I’ve asked the question before, I know, and I’ve tried a few things but nothing is really working. How do you keep track of what piece you need to be writing, for whom, and when the piece needs to be done?

I’ve tried a spreadsheet, a Google docs file, a wiki, and right now I just have a list taped up on my office wall. I need to pace myself somehow and prioritize based on deadline, length of composition, and learning curve for the instruments/ensemble. I feel like I need a separate calendar for this sort of thing but I don’t really know what/how it would look like. Thoughts?

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  1. Matt Sprengeler
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Use the list taped to your wall. Seriously. That’s how I keep my freelance work, thesis work, and general life-work organized. The beauty of a hardcopy list on your wall is twofold:

    1) You can format it however you like. When I’ve got several distinct priorities, I draw a simple grid with the projects on the left axis and various info along the top axis — deadline, client/audience, length, and space for miscellaneous notes. Then, if needed, I use different colored highlighters to break it down in another way (usually by priority). That way I can instantly see how many projects I have of a given type/priority, without losing any of the pertinent data about anything.

    2) If you have a list on the wall, YOU CANNOT STOP SEEING IT. It will always be RIGHT THERE STARING YOU IN THE FACE, which is terrible for your nerves but wonderful for your focus. And you’ll have the satisfaction of drawing a thick black line through each project when you send it off.

  2. Posted March 11, 2012 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Well I don’t have your problem 🙂 but I have observed my own writing habits and while I am composing more or less continuously I find that I get in these grooves where everything seems to break just right. So I tend to run with these and become very productive in the sense I get a lot of good stuff written.

    So when you sense that things are going well – don’t stop just because you have finished something, but move on to the next project even if the calendar doesn’t seem to call for it. This approach may not necessarily enhance your organization, but it may improve your productivity.

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