Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tips and Tricks for the Forgetful Writer

Femme la Fentre--Virgilio-Guidi-1891-1984

I’ve always been forgetful, but this month has taken my little problem to a new low.

I forgot my parent/teacher conference at my daughter’s school.

I took my daughter to a Christmas play practice…and then realized (after her part had been assigned and she’d practiced for an hour) that we’ll be out of town the day that the play runs.

I bought a decongestant for my husband at the drugstore, then couldn’t find it. He and I searched my car, the den, our bedroom, and much of the rest of the house before we found his decongestant—in the freezer.

And…I published a post on the Midnight Ink blog yesterday when I knew my posting day was the 17th. It was on my calendar and everything as the 17th. But I posted on the 16th.

Wow. What’s going on?

I think one big component to my problem is email and the way I’m processing it.And then how I'm reminding myself of the tasks I need to complete that my emails are laying out.

I'm juggling lots of different types of messages: emails from readers (which I love getting), emailed requests for interviews, review copies, signed books for charity auctions, blurb requests for upcoming books from other authors, and emails from the publisher’s publicity person---this is for the book I'm promoting.

Emails regarding revision requests, emails to obtain blurbs on my upcoming book, submitting lists to publishers regarding review opportunities for ARCs, lining up appearances—this is for the upcoming book.

And then, of course, there’s the writing for the next book, which should always be in the hopper. And some emailing to editors and agent regarding that project.

My email inbox was a disaster area. Chit-chatting stuff alongside mail from my agent. The three list-servs I’m on had emails all over the place in my inbox.


The last couple of days, I’ve been working on making sense of the madness.

Folders for my inbox…set up with mail rules upon delivery: listservs in one folder, agent/editor mail in another, interview stuff in another. I use Gmail for work, which technically doesn’t have folders—it has labels. But you can label one email several different ways, which is nice.

Using my phone for big reminders: My daughter’s parent-teacher conference? It totally needed a phone reminder. I can set up my phone to send me a text or to make an alarm to remind me of something important.

A “Big Picture” calendar: I think one problem I’m facing is that I’m not grasping the relationship between my days. That sounds nutty, but basically I think that just because something is on my day planner, I’m not really realizing that day’s relationship to the current day. There’s nothing wrong with using a page-a-day calendar—unless you don’t know what day it is. Which I, apparently, don’t. Now I’m using both—the daily one and the big picture calendar. I need a sticker with the words “You Are Here” on it to put on today’s date.

Starring or flagging important emails: This is something I’ve always done, but it’s worth a mention to those of y’all who don’t and end up with nutty inboxes. In Gmail, you can put a star next to an important email so you can find it later. In Outlook, you flag it. You can even choose different colored flags. Later, you can sort your emails so you only see the ones that require action.

As far as putting drugstore items in the freezer? I haven’t figured out a fix for that one, yet. I guess I’ll just have to include it in my places to look when I’ve lost something.