Friday, February 28, 2014

Writing Productively (5): The Tasks Tab (Insightly)

This is the fifth in a series on productivity tools for writers. I use technology to minimize the tasks that I find tedious, or to help me avoid errors, and maximize the time I have to be creative.
The Tasks Tab is the first thing I check in Insightly every day. I use it for scheduling, and also for tracking my productivity.

Primarily, I mark tasks completed, or use this as a launching point to edit existing tasks' due dates, if they need to be changed. 

Planning my work is important to me because I don't have a lot of time for writing. Therefore, it helps to be organized. I can set deadlines for myself. Sometimes there may be a real deadline, such as for a contest or for markets such as anthologies or themed issues that may have a deadline. Other times, I may set a deadline for less critical reasons.

There are lots of tasks involved in writing that are not measured by word count. Creating a task in Insightly to track other aspects of your work creates data that you can analyze later to evaluate how much effort you put into your projects and compare that to the output.

You may just want to pat yourself on the back by comparing week to week, month to month, or year to year, how much work you have done. But that is just effort. You may wish to go a step further and compare that effort to measurable outcomes, such as word count and even sales. I hope that as time goes on I will generally (depending on the kind of project) see that I can produce more and better quality work with less effort as I become a better writer.

It is by analyzing productivity measures that businesses evaluate productivity, not just looking at the number of hours people work, but also comparing that to the quantity (word count, finished stories) and quality (sales and types of markets sold in, per-word rate, etc.). I am not saying that a writer should seek to maximize the profit of their labors. However, I do think these kinds of measures are helpful to improve efficiency and profitability. If it's becoming more difficult for a writer to make a living at it full time, then these measures could provide the insight that helps a writer succeed at doing it full-time.

These are some of the tasks I like to track. You can add your own types of tasks, too.
  • Critique
  • Email
  • Follow-up
  • Meeting
  • Outline
  • Phone Call
  • Revise Draft
  • Submission
  • To-do

The next post in the series will discuss using the Organizations tab to keep information about writing markets. This is an essential part of the way I track submissions.

Prior posts in this series:
  1. Tracking Story Ideas with Insightly Projects
  2. Configuring Insightly Projects
  3. Insightly Tasks & Life-Cycle of a Story
  4. Configuring Tasks in Insightly

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