Monday, 18 July 2016

Living on the edge or Organised chaos - Linda Strachan

My life seems a bit hectic at the moment with several things going on in different areas.  This means that I sometimes feel like I am fluttering from one thing to another like a demented butterfly and holding on to a dozen strands of wool while trying not to get them all tangled up!

I've heard people say they think I am a very organised person but the reality is that although I like to have things ordered there is a big part of me that rebels against it.  When I am very busy I am am drawn to interesting ways of keeping myself on track, so that I can clear my head to write and avoid forgetting things I REALLY MUST  DO.

I came across the Passion Planner a while ago, do have a look at their website it is a great example of how an excellent idea can grow into a business. It is a diary with loads of great extras

I love the way the planner has spaces for notes on 'Good things that have happened'. We all need to be reminded of good things and I think that often there is a tendency to dwell on the miserable in life rather than good things, and remembering even small good things can bring on an unexpected smile.

There is a clear area each week called ' Space of Infinite Possibility' which is great for doodling and unexpected ideas!

I also love their short quotes, from a wide range of people, and each week has an idea to make things better for yourself.  One week, my particular favourite, is about learning to say 'No' because you cannot please everyone but it also advises you to evaluate your priorities.  I think that is most useful because when you are busy, you can easily lose sight of what is truly important.
Another thing that helps me to keep on track when I need to make some head space for writing, is making lists of things to do. I have an out of date, page-a-day diary that I make lists on so that I can iterally tear out pages.

This lies open on my desk all the time.  The way it works is that on the left page I write tasks that are long term. Perhaps they are not urgent, such as look at a particular piece of writing-related software that someone mentioned that I want to try out, or  to remind me to check up on how much I am paying for an annual bill, to see if I need to change supplier. Basically anything that does not have to be done in the next week or so.

The right hand page is my current to do list, with anything that I need to do urgently **starred ** to remind me to look at it and not skim past. It is also useful to jot down phone numbers etc next to items.  When things are completed I cross them out and at the end of a week or whenever the page begins to look particularly messy, I literally tear the page off. (very satisfying!)   I can then transfer the remaining items to the new page underneath and continue to add any new items, while the left hand 'longterm' page remains undisturbed. When that page needs to be refreshed I turn over the page and start afresh .... Simples!

How do you keep track of things you have to do when your life gets particularly busy?


Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and the writing handbook - Writing For Children.

Linda is the Chair of the SOAiS - Society of Authors in Scotland 

Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me . 
She is Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh.

Her best selling series Hamish McHaggis is illustrated by Sally J. Collins who also illustrated Linda's retelling of Greyfriars Bobby.

blog:  Bookwords 


Lari Don said...

You shared your A4 notebook list idea with me a year or so ago, and I still use it - it's a brilliant way of not losing track of the things I have to do, especially when deadlines are tight and nothing else seems to stick in my brain. I have one list-book in the study for work-related stuff, and one in the kitchen for family stuff. So you may claim not to be organised, Linda, but you've certainly helped me become a little less disorganised! Thanks! (And enjoy being a brightly coloured butterfly flitting from one creative thing to another. It's an image that suits you!)

Joan Lennon said...

I love the idea of a space for Good things that have happened!

Linda Strachan said...

Thanks, Lari. Delighted that it has proved useful!

Hi Joan, I love that, too.

Penny Dolan said...

Your "double" list-making book is a very good idea indeed, as is having one for work/writing and one for all the home stuff (so items from one don't seep into the other's priorities, of course!) Thanks, Linda and Lari.

catdownunder said...


Linda Strachan said...

Yes, it is a great idea to have two of them,Penny, but I need everything in one place or I would forget to look! But I love it when an idea works in different ways and people put their own slant on it.

Linda Strachan said...

Thanks for the mention on your blog, Cat! I used to make these year planners too, especially when the family were young and all at home.