Friday, March 18, 2011


Brand new revised sketch for my picture book dummy. 
Occasionally I'm accused of being organized. I say accused because there's generally a tone of betrayal that suggests I've done something horrible. The truth is, I wasn't always this organized, but with so much going on in my life, it's a necessity, and as a homeschooling mom, I also have to be flexible and free flowing. If I wasn't organized, I would feel like the character in my sketch. She is being swept up by the current and everything important is out of her reach and beyond her control.

My degree of organization depends on what I'm doing. Right now I've got web designs in progress, publisher packets going out, a conference to get ready for and a bunch of things in my homeschooling/personal life to tend to. To keep from going absolutely batty, I need to get it all down on paper to free my mind to work. My prioritized list and calendars provide the structure I need to sculpt my day.

My prioritized list is hand written on a letter size piece of paper which is broken down into sections.  (I don't necessarily write a new list every day. I re-write it if it starts getting too hard to read with cross-offs and add-ons.) The left side of the page is wider and devoted to professional work in order of importance from top to bottom. Clients go at the top, followed by portfolio work and then promotional work. I also have a card and print business that appears occasionally according to urgency. The right side is narrower. Errands, bills, orders, email and phone calls go on the right.

Calendars provide the framework for the day. I have a calendar for events with time slots, a calendar for my daughter's independent study and the dinner calendar with shopping notes. (The dinner calendar is fairly new. Before I added that, I would sometimes forget about dinner until too late and was left to throw something together last minute. That wasn't very satisfying.) I look at all the calendars first thing in the morning so I know how everything on my list can fit in and around the immovable things for the day. (I have separate calendars because it feels less overwhelming to me.)

Sculpting the day. If an event on the calendar isn't a client meeting, it's usually one of my daughter's activities and I know I can get some computer work done while I wait for her. I can do writing, bids, design and correspondence in that time slot. (I'm at her skating lesson now.)  I also consolidate my errands with my scheduled outings so I'm not wasting trips. The shopping notes on my dinner calendar tell me what ingredients I'm going to need. Most illustration work has to be done at my drawing board at home, so I know I'm wasting time if I'm doing anything else at home besides illustrating on a day that involves lots of scheduled activities away from home.

If I have time. I always have a few things on my list that are low priority. They're not things that really have to be done at all. If I have time after getting high priority things done, they're icing on the cake. The other day I added some character studies to the list for my conference portfolio. If I don't get them done, it's no big deal, my portfolio is just fine. If I do get them done...bonus!

Stuck? If I get stuck on something, I move to another area and come back to the troublesome item later. Maybe I need to write instead of illustrate or research publishers instead of write. Then again, sometimes my self-imposed deadlines are unrealistic. It's important for me to ask myself why I need to get something done by a particular time. Maybe I have a good reason and maybe I don't.

A tip - I make sure to break projects into stages when I put them on my list so I always have things to cross off during the day. That way I don't have to wait until an entire project is done to cross it off and I always have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

So, that's a bit about how I organize my work. I definitely find it a lot easier than being disorganized and discombobulated.

If you have any tips for staying sane and organized, I'd love to hear them!


  1. There is no way I could get as much done and still enjoy myself if I didn't have this system. I'm always looking for ways to make it better though!