Ready to bust out your mop bucket, brandish your feather duster, and rotate your wardrobe from winter to summer?
Hold on! We’ve got something so much better:
It’s time to spring clean your writing routine!
Use this checklist to give yourself relief from clutter and overwhelming disorganization. It’ll help you be more productive in your article writing and content marketing efforts!
- Tackle your workspace, including clutter on your desk and on your computer’s desktop. Keep only what you need at arm’s length and on your desktop. Lose the piles of paper stacked at your elbows and the dozens of folders and icons on your computer. Toss/delete items that no longer hold relevance, create a home for in-progress items that you’ll need immediate access to, and stow away other items that you’ll need for reference in its proper home.
- Create zones in your workspace! No one wants to scramble to pay their bills and search for that last genius idea because it’s lost to the abyss. If you work out of your home office, then have a zone specifically for writing materials to isolate it from your “paying bills” and “storage” zones.
- Organize your filing! Do you have a system? How do you keep track of in-progress and current files? Archived files, such as bank records, housing information, and personal records shouldn’t be mixing with your content writing efforts. Active files should be sorted by importance and accessibility. Develop a functional system that works for you to keep things manageable and unclutter your workspace. Go paperless where you can and create a paper-flow system for notes, reports, etc. when paperless isn’t an option. Toss (please shred and recycle!) paperwork you no longer need.
- Take inventory of distractions. Track your time for a week to ferret out those time-wasting tasks throughout your day. Track how much time you spend on social media, each time you check your email or text messages, and much more. At the end of the week, find areas you can eliminate by measuring whether they help you achieve your goals. For example: Is achieving level 101 on the latest swap ‘n match game worth all of that time you invested in it over your goals? Delete the game and consider what else you can easily clear away so your priorities come first.
- Back up your computer files. If your computer crashed tomorrow, would all of your files be safe? Ensure these are backed up to the cloud, on an emergency external hard drive, etc. While we safeguard your articles on EzineArticles.com (as long as you save it!), we’ve heard nightmares about hacked blog accounts or entire accounts deleted on host sites. Is all of your published content backed up as well? It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
- Sort through your old drafts. If you didn’t finish writing it and a few weeks have passed by, are you likely to finish it now? Is the topic still relevant? Toss out those old drafts. For those ideas you’re not ready to part with, jot down the core of the idea in your notebook or journal, but rid yourself of the clutter. For drafts worth revisiting, make sure they are up front and center to your upcoming lineup – plan it in your editorial calendar, add it to the to-do list, or whatever system you use to write!
- Revise your plan. Have you revisited your writing plan, editorial calendar, and content marketing strategies since last year? You do have a plan, right? Unless you write for the joys of writing (which we welcome wholeheartedly!), it’s important to track your articles, measure their successes and failures, and then adjust your plan accordingly to evolve with trends and your audience.
- Whip your reading materials into shape. If you’re like most authors, you’re also a prolific reader. Have your bookshelves reached (or gone over) capacity? Is your Internet browser’s toolbar cluttered with bookmarks to more articles, resources, and tools? It’s time to sort through each reading “pile.” Create a short-term storage solution for magazines, etc. and clean this area out routinely. Create a space that you will notice everyday (bookshelf near your workspace or a “READ ME” folder on your toolbar) and then generate a reading to-do list of the books or content you need to read with the action plan to do it! Once read, move it to a more permanent home or discard/donate/delete it if you no longer need it.
- Create a system for ideas storage. Ensure you have a streamlined system to house your ideas. This will help you avoid that unwieldy mess of paper slips, disjointed voice memos, etc. Although there’s a variety of apps (like Bamboo, Penultimate, and Evernote) and other forms of software and technology that can help you achieve this, there’s nothing as simple, accessible, and ever-reliable as the notebook. We’ve illustrated the two column system below that has worked well for many professionals because of its simplicity:
- Continue to use your system. Once a week, do a “maintenance” routine by repeating the above steps over again (put things away, toss unneeded documents, clean up your Internet browser, and keep desktop shortcuts under control).
Tip on throwing out items: If you don’t have a good reason beyond “I might need this someday,” then it’s probably not important. Put it in “the round file” (i.e., your trash bin).
What’s your favorite spring cleaning tactic to freshen up your writing space and routine? We’d love to hear from you – please share your comments, questions, and suggestions!
Want more Spring Cleaning tips? Click here to discover how to clean up your articles in 3 steps.