Linda Maye Adams

Getting More Organized in the New Year


The New Year is always good for resolutions, like ‘get more organized.’  I’ve always struggled with organization, particularly with paper (it breeds like tribbles!).  It’s only been in the last few years that I discovered I wasn’t chronically disorganized but that I was right-brained in a left-brained world (thanks to the book Organizing For Your Brain Type).   The majority of filing systems and tips are for left-brained people.  Nels Highberg says (and this is absolutely true for me also!):

The biggest epiphany I had while reading the book came in the chapters on physical space and paper management.  In a nutshell, I realized that drawers are evil.  Putting things away in a drawer means allowing them to disappear from my mind, with the emphasis fully on “disappear.”

And not just file cabinets.  Accordian folders and 3 ring binders.  The most common way organizing novel materials is a 3 ring binder, and it’s a black hole to me.   Then what?

The book Take Back Your Life: Using Microsoft Outlook to Get Organized and Stay Organized gave me some ideas.  Admittedly, the book is about email, but some of the principles were useful.  It does do too much drilled down detail for me.  But it did do was introduce organizing by task.  One of the problems I consistently ran into is that when I started submitting stories, I had trouble finding material because they were mixed in with revisions and research.  So I created folders like:

  • 1a: Create Project Title
  • 1b: Revise Project Title
  • 1c: Edit Project Title
  • 1d: Submit Project Title

These are the top level folders–not folders under a project name.  New papers go into the front of the folder.  The folders are color-coded–again, fairly simple.  The project I’m revising is in orange folders; the new project is in blue folders.   As long as I associate the color with the project, I don’t even have to put labels on the folders.  Everything goes in an Elfa cart, which is open all over, and I can see everything.  No black holes!  I liked this so much that I’m also using it for my electronic files.

Any changes to the way you organize your novel files for the New Year?

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