Time to Remove the Clutter

| January 2, 2009 | 13 Comments

I was about to backup my computer for my semi-annual reformat and software reinstall which helps to keep my computer running smoothly when and I stopped and took a picture of my desktop. One picture is worth a thousand words.

The Word.doc icons are all articles that I’m in the process of writing. Some of them are ideas that need fleshing out and others are articles that only need to undergo a spell check.

A Somewhat Disorganized Writer

I’m very guilty of being a bit disorganized. You see, at my age, when an idea hits me, I’ve got to write it down or dictate it before I forget it. I usually rush to my recording device, spew forth all that is in my brain and then allow the software to transcribe it onto my desktop. I used to create file folders to store them in the bowels of my computer but I could never remember where I stored it so I decided to place them on my desktop instead to make it easier for me to find them.

I guess this leads me to the question, how do you keep track of your writings? I once tried putting all of my ideas in a spreadsheet, but that didn’t work, and as I stated earlier, filing them on my computer was just about the same as deleting them because I could never find them again. Placing my documents on my desktop is sort of like pinning things on my corkboard. As long as it’s in my face, I could find it again. If I file it away, I’m in big trouble.

A Request for Ideas

As you can see, I’ll soon run out of space on my desktop, so if you don’t mind sharing your article organization tips I would very much appreciate it.

Oh, and the horse with the braids…I spend hours braiding my daughter’s hair (a task that I’m not very fond of). One day I came across this beautiful horse and couldn’t resist making it my desktop photo.

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Category: Freelance, Working from Home

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she’s not writing or commenting on NJFM, she’s either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (13)

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  1. Marilynne says:

    Leaving them on your desktop seems to work for you. I do collect things in file folders even on my desktop. They just have a common theme. My favorite is called Stuff. It’s all those things I like to have handy, but I don’t want cluttering the desk top.

    I like your blog though I admit to finally figuring out how to read more of your featured posts. I’m not a fan of the moving word.

  2. Donna says:

    Oh Felicia, I wish, I wish I could give you some ideas. But alas, I’m in the same boat. I’m reading this post just to find ideas from your readers that maybe I can use too! :o) Currently, I’m in the middle of doing “too much” with not enough organizational skills. My desktop looks very similar to yours (my actual desk doesn’t look much better) and I too have to write down, record or type in EVERY little thing that bounces into my brain.

    I’m determined to get organized & better focused this year, so if anything comes to mind, or if I hear of a good idea, I will let you know.

    By the way, I recently found your blog and I love it!!
    .-= Donna´s last blog ..Welcome…. =-.

  3. Crystal says:

    Really glad I stumbled upon this post with all the great ideas. It’s nice to know we’re all pretty much in a similar boat. I have to say, Felicia, I think I like your desktop method and plan to give it a try. I recently got a new monitor and it is BIG so I have a lot of space to lose things in plain sight!

    To date, I’ve been filing everything in various folders that are all in a main writing folder but often have a hard time finding what I’m looking for even though it can’t be buried very deep. And I’ve only been at this 5 months – I hate to think about what kind of mess I will have created after a couple of years if I don’t get a handle on it now!
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Some Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions =-.

  4. Marilynne says:

    I put them all in a file folder called Writing. Amazing, huh? Then I create different file folders for different topics. After that, I create a shortcut to sit on my desktop for the files that I’m currently working on. That works for me, but I have an index for a brain.

  5. Lisa Russell says:

    Eli I like your idea, except that there are times when I’m writing that I’m not online. I do all my keyword research at home- online and then the actual writing is sometimes done while I’m sitting in the parking lot waiting for my kids to get out of art class, girl scouts, dance class, etc. It’s actually awesome, though- the best idea for me anyhow. It also keeps your work backed up, I’m afraid I’ve deleted several of mine, knowing they’re “backed up” on the site I submitted them to. That didn’t work very well for me when Themestream shut down in 1999 owing me almost $1400.

    Here’s my thing though- I gave up on writing down all the ideas, except in my spiral notebook. I have lists of cryptic one-liners in there because I “didn’t want to forget this idea” and I never even look at the notebook. I am cursed with more ideas than I can possibly ever fulfill, so I just keep that notebook to soothe my feeling of “needing to write something down.”

    I’ve never sat down & couldn’t figure out what to write about and I sometimes find myself looking up information for an article and discover that I’ve already written one on the same topic. I’ll be reading something online and realize- oops, I wrote this! As long as the titles don’t math, carry on.

    So perhaps “quit recording half-ideas” isn’t a good idea- but I gave up on recording them because it took time away from writing actual articles I planned to finish. Unless there’s a way to get paid for half-completed articles.

    What if you devote every Tuesday or something to finishing them?

    Lisa Russells last blog post..I’m having a party and you get the presents #ubp09

  6. Shannon says:

    I do exactly the same thing as you do, Felicia, with in-your-face desktop icons.

    GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE!

    *Happy New Year*

  7. Eli says:

    For my articles and blog posts I use google docs. You’ve got the option of writing in a normal document, a spreadsheet (for my attempts at organization), and a few others that I don’t use.

    When you create a new document it goes in the list. I can see a big, long list of everything I’ve got. To the right I can see which folder it’s in.

    They way I work it is I create a lot of different folders. When I start writing something I put it in the “In Progress” folder. When I’ve finished it, it goes into the “Ready to Post” folder. When it’s posted it goes into the appropriate folder: ehow, today.com, etc.

    The best part is that I’ve got the entire list, yet it’s easy to scroll down to see which articles are ready to post or are in progress (you can even make the folders different colors). Plus, all the documents are stored online, which means I can access them from anywhere and they’re safe from computer meltdown.

    Elis last blog post..Home from Lisbon. Days 5 and 6.

  8. Jessie Heekin says:

    I took a great deal of time to organize my writing files as I made the leap for my residual income with my Freelance Writer 2.0 business. One of the first things I realized I needed to do was to go paperless with my entire content management system and planning system.

    I had purchased Julie Hood’s Organized Writer and really loved her concepts, but the paper method wasn’t working. I took her ideas and used them all on my computer.

    I suggest recurring folders with a Master List. I use this list in eMail, electronic documents, my writing journal – even with my eZines reading lists!

    Your Master List need to be in pyramid structure grouping of your ideas that write about.

    Good luck to you Felicia, as I can greatly empathize with the organizational dilemma.

    Jessie Heekins last blog post..Your Master List

  9. I’m a clutter bug, too, Felicia. It’s such a burden ….

    I store most of my thoughts and drafts in My Documents – by topic (e.g., “Grammar,” “Movies,” “Humor,” “TV,” “Blogging,” “Technology,” etc.). I have a separate Folder for each topic. Then, within each Folder are MS Word documents. I rename the documents as I make progress on them (e.g., draft, final), or I save them as different versions (.1, .2, .3, etc.).

    I also store things (especially really raw ideas) in variously named Outlook Mail folders.

    These approaches are both different than yours, as they’re “hidden” and not in your face, on your desktop, like a cork board. So that may be a negative (out of sight, out of mind).

    Good luck to all of us!

    Cassie Tuttles last blog post..And the Winner Is ….

  10. Alyssa says:

    Felicia,

    I can relate – I suffer from the same affliction. I, too, have a few unfinished articles and discovered that I have strayed so far I can’t remember what I started.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of creating folders based on topics/themes (e.g. nutrition, economy, how-to’s, cultural, etc.). This allows for better time management. That is, some articles will require more research and analysis than others. I imagine that if you applied this method, you might have polished off your article just in time for the holiday season.

    My tendencies also compell me to break these folders into subfolders for the appropriate content provider (e.g. eHow, Bukisa, Associated Content, etc.). Once I know for whom I’m writing the article, the piece becomes more focused and clear.

    I once started a folder that contained only ideas – I wrote the first couple of sentences to my opening paragraph. In between projects, I’d peek inside this folder as a way to spark new ideas or flesh out existing ones.

    What I’m trying to say is that you have to figure out how your brain works and processes information. I’m a visual, tactile person, so to remember what I need to work on I have to “feel” or “see” my reminders. A long time ago I had a PDA, but I still had post it notes attached to it! I suspect this is why you have a crowded desktop. This is no different than having many folders and subfolders, but you’d at least have them in some classification that helps you process your information and then act on it.

  11. Felicia says:

    Thanks Jen for the idea. I tried that once, but I don’t write in a linear fashion. Sometimes I start an article, drop it and come back to it months later. When I filed everything by the month I couldn’t remember which month I started writing (it’s a memory thing with me).

    One word of caution, Julie, with putting them on your desktop, make sure you have enough room…LOL.

    When things get too cluttered, I tend to go through my desktop to finish up a few half complete articles. Unfortunately, I just found a great piece that would have done well this Christmas season. Oh well, I’ll finish it now, upload it and let it season for next year.

  12. Julie says:

    I’d like to give you an idea, Felicia, but I kind of like YOUR idea of putting them on the desktop. I like the corkboard analogy.

    Julies last blog post..eHow Earnings: December Update

  13. jen brister says:

    Hmm..you could try making a different folder for each month and keep THAT on your desktop. That way you always know where your current stuff is.

    jen bristers last blog post..Writing for Lifetips

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