Last year, I started looking up different ways to be more productive with my writing. I got lost in a myriad of books about creativity, increasing word count, and organization. My obsession got worse when I discovered the Instagram planner community.
If you’re familiar with this colorful underside of Instagram, then you know just how addictive stickers and washi tape can be–all in the name of productivity. My to-do list has never looked so fun. I’m way more likely to keep track of everything when it looks pretty.
However, the problem with using stickers is that it takes up space. Like, I have an entire secret box filled with stickers I hide from my husband because I don’t want to admit to my addiction. And when you’re keeping track of both the daily and writing life, you either have to buy more than one planner (which I hate because I need everything in one place) or figure out a way to squeeze everything into one. The more writing tasks I took on, the harder this squeezing became. Plus, I was constantly whiting out and erasing, which makes my planner less pretty.
I needed a way to supplement my planner without actually buying a new planner.
Luckily, I did find another organization technique I’ve completely fallen in love with. I wanted to share it in case it helped others too.
I got this idea from author Sarra Cannon. Not only is Sarra a successful author, but she developed her own writing business called Heart Breathings to help other writers be more productive in their work and gain more control over their career. How cool is that? Also, she loves planners and stickers even more than I do. So I love watching her YouTube channel.
Sarra uses a KanBan board to help plan out her writing projects. It’s a way of visually organizing projects and breaking them down into one tiny task. You can do it digitally, but many people write all these tasks onto sticky notes and slapping them onto a whiteboard. At its simplest, the Kanban has three columns. One for all the to-do tasks, one for the tasks you’re currently doing, one for the done tasks.
The genius? You only focus on the tasks in the doing column. You fly through to to-dos and end up tackling entire projects much more easily because you stay focused and less overwhelmed. Plus, you get the pleasure of watching all the sticky notes pile into the done column. If you are a visual person, this method of organization is super satisfying.
Sarra sets hers up based on the yearly quarters, every 90 days. I tried the same for the first time this year. I took my projects from January to March, broke them into tasks, wrote those tasks on color-coded sticky notes, and slapped them on a mini white board.
(Yellow is my actual writing, though you can see I grouped the yellows by my word count for book 3 and other writing tasks. Orange is for my newsletter. Pink is Marketing. Green is life stuff.)
I quickly realized these sticky notes are a great way to organize my daily work to-dos. I’ll pull down all the tasks I’m working on for the week and group them into days. (In the photo above, you see I changed my doing column to this week. And that one of my tasks for this week was to write this blog post.) At the end of the week, I toss all my done stickies. Clearing off the board mentally helps me prepare for the next week.
Using sticky notes makes changing things around super easy as life gets in the way. I’m not constantly erasing and whiting out and wasting time doing so. My stickers stay pristine and I have more room in my planner 😀
Win-win for everyone!
Have you every tried using a KanBan board? Do you adapt it like I do or do you use it traditionally?
Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if.She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.
Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at http://www.abbyjreed.com.