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Task Management and Kanban

Kanban is a method for managing work to be done without overloading the people doing said work. The method is applicable to writers, especially when undertaking complex projects. It allows the author to have a nice overview of what needs to be done while still having it easily organized into do-able tasks.

Kanban starts with creating a few basic categories for your work. I divide my process into Triage, Do Today, In Progress (right now), and Done. You can divide your process into categories that resonate with you and match your personal way of doing things.

Post It Notes and Kanban

At first, I take each of my tasks and put them in the Triage category. These should be finite, do-able tasks. If I’m drafting, this could be researching a particular detail or writing a specific scene. If I’m revising, this could be addressing a specific revision note like clarifying my order events and timeline or adding more detail to my hero’s backstory.

At the beginning of my day’s work session, I pick one or two tasks–no more than three–and put them in the Do Today category. Then when I’m ready to start working, I pick one task and put it in the In Progress category. Then I get to work.

This allows me to focus on the task at hand. And maybe I’ll finish it, so it then goes in the Done! category. Or maybe I’ll have worked on it as far as it can go before I finish other tasks, so I’ll leave it in In Progress and take the next task from Do Today.

The goal here is to not be overwhelmed by all the things floating in the Triage category. I’ve identified them. I know they’re there. I can even add more. But on a given day, I’m only focusing on the few tasks I’ve placed in Do Today. Because I’m focusing on them, I can get them done.

Kanban method can be done on paper. I have big Post-It notes on my workspace wall, actually. Or there are online web apps to let you organize. I use Trello, for example.

Trello and Kanban

Using the kanban method to manage my “things to do” is effective to keep myself productive and protect myself from getting overwhelmed. It makes me feel better to have all my random, free-floating to do’s in the Triage category. It let’s me focus on the specific tasks I’ve pulled into my Do Today. It feels really good to drop a task into my Done! category.

Does this method interest you? I’d love to see examples of this method applied to other authors’ work.

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Passion Planner Giveaway! Celebrating September

Deadline adventures continue as we head into September and the end of summer. Where the heck did summer go? We’re coming up on Labor Day weekend and it’s my birthday month! (Thus the Passion Planner giveaway to celebrate, but more on that below.)

It’s the start of a new school year for people of all ages, though it’s been a long time since I’ve graduated…various levels of education. But I still love September to start new projects and planning initiatives. It’s like Back to School without the new bus schedule.

I’m planning to finish the year strong with 1 more contracted manuscript to turn in (Deadly Testimony, a Safeguard novel) and 2 short stories before diving into NaNoWriMo to start drafting the final books in each of my romantic suspense series: Safeguard and True Heroes.

I’m still really enjoying using a paper planner to keep my writerly tasks clear in my head. In fact, I’ve been looking at great features of other planner systems (though I’m still using my Erin Condren planner!). For example, I’m loving the concept of inkWELL Press‘ mission boards. There’s also the clean, simplistic look of Passion Planner’s Academic layout with the area for mind-mapping and thoughtful doodling.

These nifty features are helpful to keep monthly or weekly goals in mind as well as encourage brainstorming. Trust me, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming recently. September is travel heavy and I want to make the most of my writing time. Optimizing the use of my paper planner is key. Plus, I want to enjoy all of it as I go and playing with washi tape and stickers in my planner makes me happy. 😉

We’re headed into Labor Day Weekend and it’s my birthday month so I’ve decided to give away a Passion Planner Academic Compact planner for August ’15 – August ’16 to one winner (open to US and International entrants).

So what are your goals for September? or the rest of the year?

Passion Planner
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Giveaway! Erin Condren Life Planner

I’ve got some challenging deadlines writing both the Safeguard series (mercenaries, explosive action, strong heroines) and the True Heroes series (hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the dogs that always have their backs). The time management involved can be intimidating.

So you might have seen me get excited about Erin Condren Life Planners somewhere around social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or heard me talk about them with Katee Robert and Robin Covington in my most recent #EMEPiper podcast episode. If not, shoo! Go check it out somewhere.

But come back!

Because I decided the Erin Condren Life Planner helped me organize my writerly life so much, I wanted to share the organization fun (really, it can be!). So to celebrate this Independence Day weekend (Happy 4th of July!) I’ve decided to give away an EC Rose Gold LIMITED EDITION 18-month life planner to one winner (open to Residents of the US only this time).

It’ll be enough to get you started in planner fun right away in July 2015 and take you right to the end of 2016.

Erin Condren Life Planner

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paper Planner for a Digital Piper

PlanningI’m writing this weekend. Madly writing with a daunting word count goal for each day. I’ve got tasks in my Any.Do app for my goals and my deadlines highlighted in brilliant red on my Google Calendar with automated reminders set to email me as they get closer.

Looking forward to 2015, I’ve got the most contractual deadlines of my career so far. It’s exciting! It means I have books coming out!

As wonderful as it is, it’s also intimidating. And I was starting to approach my planning for 2015 with trepidation. Not a positive way to look at projects.

Then, Katee Robert pinged me with something so very shiny. And practical. And perfect.

She was getting a day planner. Very practical. And oh, but what a day planner (click here to check it out). The ideas presented with this day planner of colorful stickers and washi tape and pieces of scrapbooking paper…it was an explosion of colors, designs, and fun. My creative side bubbled up in glee at all the possibilities.

Suddenly, planning for 2015 was fun and exciting. You bet I purchased a planner too, complete with colorful stickers. I’ll dig out my scrap booking stash and put it to good use rather than letting it languish tucked away in my storage unit. So many happy things …completely non-digital.

Out of character for me, possibly. But I think a change of pace for my usual techno-gadget self is a good thing. 😀