With the New Year upon us, now is a good time to start keeping records or update them, organize the records and files you have, and make some lists. Starting the year off by being well organized will provide you with a solid base from which to approach and plan and be ready for whatever comes your way. Here are some suggestions to begin.

  • SORT AND ORGANIZE: Take the time, whether a day or two or a week, to sort through and organize your files. Decide what you need to keep and what can be shredded or recycled. Do you need a new binder, folder, or Duo-Tang for 2021 papers and receipts? In which area of your home office, or in which other place at home, and on which shelf or in which drawer are you going to house your files and folders? Doing this now will help set you up for success and start this year off having a place for everything and everything in its place.
  • MAKE A LIST: Make a list of the things you want to do and accomplish – conferences and events you plan to attend, retreats you want to go to, and topics for articles, stories, and books you wish to write. On this list, you can also include which magazines and newspapers you would like to submit a query to and be published in for the coming year. Having a list of what you want to achieve will help you know what to focus your time on and keep you on track each week, month, and quarter of the year.
  • RECORD KEEPING: At least at the end of each week or month, and ideally after every transaction, record every transaction of income and expenses (supplies purchased, any contests entered, editing, professional/association fees, and more) which come in and out of your account. Whether you choose to record transactions on paper or in an online spreadsheet such as Excel, doing this on a regular basis will make it much easier for you to be prepared come tax time and to know if you are within your budget, staying out of debt, or making a profit.
  • TRACK YOUR TIME: If you want to track how much time and when you spend time on writing, make sure to record on your calendar your writing times. By taking note of this, you can tell if you are spending enough time writing to reach your goals or if you need to add more hours. You may also notice certain patterns. For example, you might learn when you usually write and are most productive – morning, afternoon, or evening – and can then perhaps adjust your schedule to guard that time as special for your writing work.
  • MAINTENANCE SCHEDULES: Finally, keep a record of when you last had computer maintenance done and when you renewed or updated your internet security. This way, you will know when these things need to be checked and done again. Whether you keep this record in a document on your computer, handwrite it in a notebook, or keep this list by your calendar, choose a way and a place that works for you and reminds you of these tasks. Maintaining your technology is a key factor in accomplishing your writing goals.

There is no time like the beginning of a New Year to sort, review, and organize papers and files and make lists of your goals. By doing this now and at regular times each week and month, you will know where papers and files are located which are needed for you to stay on track throughout the year and what you need to work on to reach your goals.

Barbori Garnet is a Creative Arts Professional – writer, artist, musician, and gardener – based in Alberta. She enjoys writing non-fiction and writes on remote work, home offices, gardening, and more. Barbori has a BFA and an MA Communications degree.