We got the first part of the “Frankenstorm” here in Washington, DC, late yesterday afternoon with some rain. So far, it’s just been a lot of rain. The Federal government announced that it would be closing today (likely because Metro suspended service). DC’s usually a ghost town when the government shuts down, but there’s a surprising amount of people out. DC is very type A, so people will drive in anything! Me? I’m staying indoors, thank you very much. Meanwhile, onto my post.
Most of the time management tips for writers revolve around doing the writing like apply butt to chair. But even something like the technology can eat at your writing time. So here are tips about using the technology to cut back on the chaos around writing.
- Use templates for documents where ever you can. Letters, manuscript format, research — whatever you can come up with. To come up with templates, think about documents where you repeat the format, and even the content. — Urban Muse
- Always start your document from a template, not from an existing document. It’s just too easy to accidentally save over the top of your old document, and then it’s gone.
- Learn the tool you’re writing with. The last thing you want to do is be scrambling around trying to figure out how to change the format of a document to match the guidelines when you’re on a deadline. These certification books are very good because they take you through how to do one task, so you can pick what you need.
- If you’re using Word, learn how to work with styles and always use them. This will save a lot of time when you’re submitting to a magazine that requires a different format than standard manuscript. Two or three updates to the document style, and you’ve reformatted the entire manuscript — less than five minutes. Style Basics
- Stick to a naming convention for your files, but at the same time, don’t make it so obscure that six months from now you won’t remember what it means. And especially, stay away from the default name of Doc1! Get it Done Guy
- Make backups! This should go without saying, but make it a habit to backup your stories often. There are also some free online backup sites like Mozy that you can take advantage of.
- If your email is overwhelming you, start by unsubscribing to anyone regularly sending you emails that you are simply deleting. I turned off probably about 4-5 of these, and I was amazed at how much my incoming email dropped.
- If you’re thinking of buying a computer, check with your employer to see if you can get a discount through them. One of my past companies offered this.
- Check with your employer to see if they offer a Home Use Program. You may be able to get a substantial discount on a program you need without having to go to the store to buy it. I’ve gotten both Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat X Pro this way.
Got any other technology tips? Post them below.
Linda Adams – Soldier, Storyteller
Also stop by my article Balancing Writing and Blogging on Vision: A Resource for Writers.
Check out Using Time Wisely from The Editor’s Blog for some great tips that aren’t like everyone else’s. I have to work on giving myself enough time to do a thorough job (she who had a 10-day turnaround on an article for a military anthology).