If you want to get your writing revised and website work organized enough to support you through the recession, put yourself in gear and make the work load manageable. One thing is certain – disorganization doesn’t help.
Productivity for writers and web workers depends on good managerial skills. I’ve experimented with many techniques, and found that an awesome calendaring system combined with a spreadsheet to organize thoughts, activities and money will provide everything you need to get a web based business on track.
I use Google Calendar but there are other good options such as the calendar in Microsoft Outlook, or Sunbird and Lightning – free Mozilla calendaring projects. I also have a large wall calendar hanging across the room for easy access by everyone in my household. That’s where I interface with family scheduling needs. In addition to that I have an inexpensive desk calendar which I keep on my writing table, next to my computer desk. Nothing elaborate – my writing desk is a card table right now! (I’m hoping to upgrade one of these days, but it hasn’t happened yet!)
A variety of calendars keep me thinking about the date, the month, the progress, and what needs to be done next. It helps to keep my mind from wandering into non-essential activities that will not help my entrepreneurial progress.
The other tool I use daily, a spreadsheet, contains everything else I’ve been using to keep my business development plans going. Recently I started moving my accounting system from the spreadsheet to Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting software but I’m still learning how to use that. Until I do, my double-entry bookkeeping spreadsheet is still a great friend.
The spreadsheet I use is free with Open Office.
Numbers are not all I track on spreadsheets. I have one multi-page spreadsheet called “Workflow”. I like the name because it reminds me that the work must keep flowing. I cannot tell you how many times I sat here during a morning wondering why I wasn’t getting anything done. Then I remembered I hadn’t opened that spreadsheet. Work was not flowing. Once I open the spreadsheet I’m back on track. Work starts happening, as it should. It eradicates any thought of confusion from my mind because all my notes are there.
To give an idea of the types of pages I have in Workflow, I’ll list some of them here.
The pages are in alphabetical order, and the first is a page for AdSense profits – to remind me how much I’ve made from each site I have AdSense advertising on. The next page is a budget – my household budget spreadsheet that reminds me which bills are paid and which need to be paid. It also tracks household income – which in my case is owner’s draw from my web-based business which I call LJ Martin Web. (Currently still under development.) All profits from AdSense, Squidoo, Amazon, or any other affiliate program are considered income to LJ Martin Web. From that I transfer enough every month to my bank account as owner’s draw, and then pay my bills and buy food and other necessities, always keeping enough in the business account for all needed business expenditures.
The next pages are my company financial records: journal and ledger, which, as I said, are currently being transferred to Peachtree accounting software. Next… a page of checklists. This is sort of serendipity. Anything I need a list of can go there. I have a list of things I must do on the first of every month, a list of food supplements and other OTC medicines I like to use, a list of office supplies needed, and a list of things to buy next time I go to Yreka… the biggest town nearby, population about 7,000. (I live in a remote cabin in the hills next to a very small town that often doesn’t have what I need.)
After that I have a group of pages to implement what I’m learning from David Allen’s Getting Things Done book. I call them “GTD Projects”, “GTD Next”, “GTD Waiting”, and “GTD Someday”. You would have to read the book to understand what each is for. The “Next” page is my immediate to-do list.
Next to those pages there’s a page marked “Guilt List”. That’s for anything that is weighing heavily on my conscience, causing depression, and lingering on the to-do list way too long. Right now I have only one thing on my guilt list so I’m doing pretty good at dealing with those items once I realize I’ve developed a problem. You see, I’m used to procrastination… and am combating it with anything I can. Action helps.
Next I have a page marked “H/H Exp.” – household expenses – a place to write down and total everything I’ve purchased including gasoline, propane, food, household items, petfood, other pet products or vet visits, medicine, other health products, and personal care products. I want to know how much I spend on everything. When I bring home a receipt from the market it goes into a file here on my desk until I have time to record it. I write down each item on the spreadsheet, and there are totals along the bottom for each type of purchase I’ve made. Usually the receipts can be tossed after recording purchase and price, but sometimes I save them as business expenses to use for my next tax return. Then they’re recorded in my business journal and filed with other tax deduction receipts. I’ve had to start recording all expenses so I can find out where my money is going, and cut back when I spend too much on certain items.
My next spreadsheet page is called “Niche Org”. I made this one because I have hundreds of pages and more than thirty domains. I wanted to know what my main niches were – and so I organized them and learned I’ve mainly got 11 niches that I write in. Now I can use those pages and websites to support each other better. Most people would probably like to have only one niche, but I’m a bit ADD-brained and like to flit from one topic to another. It keeps me interested.
My next page is my Strategic Plan – which I use as a planner for my annual business plan, and then I’ve got a page for organizing my usage of a group of prayer websites I’m starting.
Next is something very important… my Promo page. This spreadsheet lists every web page I’ve got whether it is on Squidoo, HubPages, or on one of my owned websites. This page tells me where I’ve promoted that page. I have an extensive collection of sites I use to promote my work, and of course many of my sites link from one to another. This page shows me exactly what links have been put in place and where I might make progress by doing more promotional work.
The next page is used to add up all profit derived from each site during the past year. Putting this page together helped me decide which websites to focus on during 2011, and which ones to consider eliminating.
Next is Site Work – a page I use to track what actions I need to take to keep my sites updated. For example, I use WordPress on quite a few sites including this one. Whenever there’s an update in WordPress, I have a lot of work to do because I own not just one blog, but many! So I keep notes on versions installed for each site, plugin versions, etc. One section is to verify that the site has a working sitemap.xml file for Google and other search engines to use to index my site. Another section tells me if a site is registered for Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Yahoo Site Explorer. Keeping all this work organized on the spreadsheet helps me manage over 30 domains without losing my mind.
The next page is for the series of fifteen web stores I’ll be opening in 2011 using the Fresh Store Builder software. I’ll be tracking money earned. I just started and so far there’s nothing there. One of my goals this year is to sell more than 110 Amazon products monthly. I’m far from there now.
The last page in Workflow is about taxes. Right now I’m just organizing there. I should make it into a record of taxes I’ve paid for the last seven years, or something like that. One thing I love about using a spreadsheet to organize my business is that it is flexible, you can include as many pages as you like, and change them whenever there’s a need.
So, there you have it… my two most important productivity tools, my calendars and my spreadsheet. I also have a separate spreadsheet for each website I own, but let’s not get too complicated. Well, I may tell you more about them later.
Organization makes income-producing content writing productivity possible.