Structure and Software


I’m constantly surprised at how much I’ve been able to keep up with my NaNoWriMo responsibilities. It’s amazing at how much one can get done when one creates a detailed schedule, no? I used to keep an hour-by-hour schedule when I first went to college. I wrote it all out every night for the next day, in half-hour increments, sort of like this:

5:30-6:00 Wake up, shower, eat breakfast
6:00-8:00 Study
8:00-9:30 Anthropology
9:30-11:00 Study
11:00-12:30 Algebra
12:30-1:00 Lunch
1:00-5:00 A&P Lab
5:00-7:00 Work
7:00-7:30 Dinner
7:30-9:00 Study
9:00-10:00 Read
10:00 Bed

It’s pretty specific, but I find that, being the chronic procrastinator that I am, this is what I need to plan out my day. Otherwise I could end up, say, at 5:00 and wondering, Where the hell did the day go? Oh yeah. Emails and watching The Daily Show on Comedy Central’s Web site. Riiiiight.

It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but so far it’s given me the chance to keep up (for the most part!) with NaNo. And this weekend I’m going to see about upgrading my old cell phone and my trusty-but-hefty day planner into either a Palm Centro or a Blackberry. I’m finding that my shoulders have reached an allowable weight limit, and my planner — sooo useful though it may be — is giving me shoulder and neck pain like crazy. That, plus my TMJ, is keeping my physical therapist nice and busy. Hence, the move to a PDA that will hopefully (hopefully!) keep me more streamlined and even more organized. Am I asking too much out of a little handheld device? Probably. I mean, it’s called a smartphone for a reason.

I’ve taken up a couple more projects this month, so that’s both keeping me busy and financially afloat. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I found a nifty little online software program called (I think I mentioned it on Twitter) for project management (among other utilities, but PM is what I use it for most often). I tried the free option (1 project at a time), but found very quickly that I actually have more projects that need juggling and would therefore need to upgrade. For $12.95/month on the Standard Business Plan, I can have up to 10 projects and 2 GB of file storage. Not bad, eh? Especially since I can write it off on my taxes as a business expense (Gawd, I love deductions). Although I worked as a PM Assistant several years ago, I’m still learning my way around project management and know that I haven’t even come close to mastering even this relatively simple program, but so far I’m totally loving it for allowing me to keep track of everything on my little plate.

Everyone else seems to use Microsoft Project, which I did have loaded on my business laptop years ago during my corporate days, but I never did really get beyond playing with it, since I was laid off not too long after I was promoted to that position. At the time everyone hated it, thought it was more unwieldy than Photoshop (is that even possible?), but lately I’ve heard fewer complaints and more compliments. Good on Microsoft, but considering the cost, I’ll stick with for now unless and until something better comes along.

Okay, back to the daily schedule. Structure, structure, as my writing teacher used to say!