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It’s the end of 2019 and plans for 2020 are forming in the back of my mind as I attempt to focus on writing to finish the first novel in my new series, currently called The Missing.

Confession: this blog post is actually a form of procrastination. So I’m going to try to be concise a do a bulleted list.

What did I do in 2019?

  • released Fierce Justice
  • completed edits on Forever Strong
  • drafted the intro novella to The Missing
  • hopefully finished drafting the 1st novel of The Missing (in progress)
  • started physical therapy for nerve issues and extreme, chronic pain in my hands and arms due to issues in my neck/back/shoulders
  • starting learning to write via dictation
  • re-released 4 novellas formerly under my PJ Schnyder name
  • instructor and staff on the Writing Excuses workshop and retreat cruise
  • guest speaker at Surrey International Writer’s Conference
  • signing author at ApollyCon
  • featured author at Book Lovers Con
  • re-launched my Patreon to share task management & project planning, as well as lessons learned in writing via dictation

Those are the highlights, with a whole lot of hard work and some crazy obstacles to overcome behind the scenes.

It’s been a rough year, struggling with depression and anxiety along the way, and I am going to let 2019 go in the rear view mirror without too much examination. I’m also not going to plan too much about 2020 before it actually begins.

So that’s the end of 2019 and plans for 2020 are?

My focus will be on health, balance, and my writing. I want to dive into my writing and savor the joy of it.

There will be fewer cons or book signings and more writing retreats.

I love my readers and I’m pretty sure you all love me primarily for my books, so I’m going to focus on writing more.

Speaking of savoring…

Updates to Patreon

Sharing my journey in learning to write via dictation, as well as my tips on project planning and task management, has worked out well on Patreon. I intend to continue into 2020.

Based on a whole lot of stress cooking in 2019, with plenty of pics posted to my Facebook profile and Instagram feeds, the subsequent requests for recipes, then private messages from people asking me for those recipes again later when they couldn’t find the FB post where I’d provided the recipe or at least guidelines of what I did (because a lot of my cooking doesn’t involve me following a recipe) … I’ll be sharing recipes or relate how I cooked a dish on my Patreon, made available to public.

This means you don’t have to join a paid tier to have access to those posts, only follow me on Patreon. Patrons who did join a paid tier will have early access to my cooking posts, then the posts will be available to the public after a bit of time. Either way, it’s an easy place to go find those recipes and cooking instructions.

I will be adding a paid tier for those interested in vlogs (videos) of me cooking various favorite dishes, especially food I’ve included in my books as part of my character building. Shenanigans are sure to occur as I have fun with this and I cannot predict just how many bloopers are going to happen but I promise not to edit them out. Look to join the “Trail Cache” tier, or any of the higher tiers on my Patreon for access to those videos.

Piper's Prioritization Matrix

There are times when I’ve got so much to do, I’ve got no idea where to start or what the prioritization is. It’s just an overwhelming mess of things that need to be done. I’m frozen in analysis paralysis and stressed out.

It’s time to take a deep breath and apply what I know of prioritization to the chaos of all the tasks piled up in front of me. Sometimes, my approach can be straightforward and simple. Other times, I need to apply my flexible approach to evaluating and organizing my tasks in a matrix to easily decide what to work on next.

Highlights

  • Where’s Piper? In her home office!
  • When you need to prioritize your tasks
  • How to prioritize: Simple Approach
  • Matrix Approach
  • OMG something else hit my To Do list!

Shout-outs

You can support EMEPiper and Piper’s other writing-related creative content at patreon.com/piperjdrake.
Check out this episode!

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.