Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bed Spread Sheets by Andy Scheer

What system do you use to organize and track your projects?

No matter the system, I hope you use it because it makes sense to you, not because it's the one experts say you're supposed to use.

Years ago I worked with an editor who personified professionalism. Every pencil and paper in her office was positioned perfectly. She dressed for success and, in the days before tablet computers and smart phones, carried a personal organizer.

She wrote a book on time management. I read it—and realized I could no more adopt her system than I could wear her shoes.

While I worked for two decades as a managing editor, I take a less rigid approach to project management. If the best tool for tracking something is a Word document, fine. If a spreadsheet program will better organize the data, that's what I'll use.

Recently I've been taking the term spreadsheet more literally.

In planning a course for the Christian Writers Guild, I collected and evaluated lessons from five distinct sources. I started with 40, pared my list to 24, then decided which 12 of those were essential and which could be supplemental. Then I had to decide their sequence.

A big task, so I went back to basics. I made and stapled 24 printouts and placed them in two stacks.

I arranged in sequence the printouts of the 12 essential lessons—across a bed in the guest room where I make my office. I placed the 12 supplemental readings across the floor in front of the other guest bed.

A few times I decided to change the order. I simply picked up and moved the stapled pages. No need to key in Ctrl + S. With everything in order, it was simple to type in the titles and sequence in a Word document.
Maybe there's a program that would let me accomplish the same thing. But considering the size of my monitor, I doubt it would work as well as spreading the sheets across the bedspread.


Davalyn Spencer said...

Love this. Sometimes "hands on" is just so much easier.

Your analogy of not fitting the editor's organizational style any better than you would her shoes was a wonderfully simple picture--one I will remember the next time I try to apply someone's tried-and-true method that I can't work with.

Diana said...

Wow, I need to relax. I use a similar system Andy. :-) But I will not be posting any pictures until after I have my taxes done LOL

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