By Kass Fogle
By day, I don my Human Resources cap and march into the office ready to drive results through project work, endless meetings, and to-do lists.
But like anyone’s plan for the day, mine turns on a dime and the prioritized, color-coded time blocks that organize my day crumble around me.
Sometimes the same goes for my writing, so I recently decided to customize the tools I use in my day job so they work for my works-in-progress as well.
Here are five tools that have saved me time and energy and I hope they will for you as well.
- Project Planning & Management Software –Microsoft Project is still an option in many corporate environments, but in the online business world, tools like Trello, Monday, Asana, and Clickup are busting at the seams with productivity. Each has a unique platform and offers free templates, tips, and resources.
I use Trello to house my schedule, brainstorming activities, content creation, images, checklists and more for my blogs, podcasts, books, social media and other projects.
Here is a picture of how I use one board in Trello. It is my Branding board and holds everything about my brand in one place, from my personality assessment results to my colors, fonts, bio, and headshot.
- 5 Why – I often investigate safety incidents at work and to get to the root cause, we run through a 5-Why exercise. The gift of asking “why?” five times, helps me understand the appropriate fix to prevent any future incidents.
When I receive feedback regarding “why” a scene exists or a character reacts the way they do, I ask, “why?” five times until I get my answer. This helps me ensure all the steps match my character’s avatar. It will also reveal if the scene or character lacks depth or doesn’t move the story forward.
- Defining Action Plan – A DAP documents the specific and measurable way to meet your goal.
- Begin by writing down your goal: Create Brand Awareness around New Brand.
- Create your one sentence objective that describes how you will meet your goal: “Increase website traffic by XX%”
- Describe strategies to help you meet your objective: “Create stunning opt-ins that overdeliver on value.”
You’ll also want to add accountability and success levers as well as identify any obstacles that might get in your way. Whether you’re rebranding or increasing web traffic, a DAP can help jump start your work. Trello is a great place to document your progress! (Tip: You can sign up to receive a template below)
- GANTT Chart – How often do you underestimate the time and energy a project will take? It’s easy to envision success under the excitement of a potential contract or agent follow-up. The reality is, it’s difficult to produce quality content under the stress of an overpromised deadline.
GANTT charts help provide a realistic, visual timeframe based on parameters you set for duration, start and stop dates, and team members for each task. You can even track the progress so the next time you repeat the priority or task, you can adjust based on the actual, versus planned timeframe.
Excel has an interactive GANTT template that is easy to customize. If you have a launch, deadline, or other major project ahead, you’ll want to dedicate the time now to save you the time later.
- Skilled Training Plan – Do you end up in email jail as much as I do? I sign up for every list that provides great content and before I know it, I’m registered for dozens of free and low-cost, high-value courses for any skill I might need in the near or far future. Can you relate? Before getting Introvert-Overthinking-Brain, I have to ask myself, “which of these courses will help me drive results for what I am trying to accomplish in the next ninety days?” (See GANTT Chart and Defining Action Plan!)
To keep my sanity in check, I adopted the Skilled Training Plan for the skills I need now and ninety days from now. The Training Plan helps me identify the skills I need as an author, from developing deep point of view to a Pinterest strategy, based on the priorities listed in my GANTT. Then I can evaluate my current skill levels, assign a priority ranking and evaluate the availability of all my resources. It takes about fifteen to thirty minutes to get a good draft going but helps me focus on what’s important now so I can save precious time later.
Tip: If someone has great content, I think I might need later, but don’t want the barrage of emails now, I keep their name and website info handy in Trello.
Like many planning and organization tools, there’s a lot of set up work which can make getting started an overwhelming task. Ask yourself where you are in your business, which planning area requires the most help, and which will yield the highest result for you right now.A tool for any use: get your writing organized today! @kassfogle #ACFWBlogs #writetips #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Kass Fogle is a blogger and podcaster for The Introverted Believer. As a card-carrying Introvert with a side-dish of social anxiety, she is committed to helping introverts in their work, relationships, and faith. She is also a consultant with Vim & Vigor Business Consulting, helping small business with strategic mapping, project management and human resources. Visit Kass on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’d like to receive three of the five tools listed above (GANTT available through Excel and Trello online), visit https://www.kassfogle.com/authoropspack, drop in your email and start using your tools today!