Projects at a Glance


It’s been a while since my last post—I’ve had a lot of exciting things going on, to say the least. (Book news!) (Film news!) On top of that, I was in the revision cave for quite some time. Now that I’m out of said cave, at least for a little while, I’m faced with a new question: which project should I focus on next?

I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m revising, Shiny New Ideas start popping up out of the woodwork like crazy. I’m a single-focus kind of girl—I like to finish one thing before diving into another—but when it comes to Shiny New Ideas, I allow myself to cheat juuuust a little. I open a fresh Scrivener file and write the first page, trying my best to nail down the voice. That way it’s easier to dive in later, when I actually have time to focus on it.

I’ve accumulated quite a few of these idea sparks. Add in the couple of projects in need of another revision pass, and I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next…long stretch of time.

With so many projects I’m excited to tackle, I needed an efficient way to stay on top of them. Not sure why I never thought of this until this week, but I’ve come up with a super-easy, super-organized system: yet another fresh Scrivener project! Instead of chapter files filled with words, this time I’m basically using the files as a to-do list, one file per project.

Here’s a screenshot of my system:

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 4.40.53 PM

And here’s the system itself, broken down:

  • Create one file per project, using your project title as the heading. (I’ve used acronyms for the sake of this blog post.) Put them all in a folder—if you look in the left column, you’ll see I’ve oh-so-creatively titled my folder PROJECTS. To see the bulletin board view as it appears in the screenshot, click on the folder, then select the bulletin board option (as opposed to simple document viewing or outline mode).
  • Write status notes on the index card: what’s been accomplished so far, any next steps you’re planning to take.
  • Customize your labels: I’ve labeled mine current focus (purplish blue), frontburner (pink), complete: awaiting next steps (green), partially complete: awaiting next steps (light blue), backburner (gray).
  • Assign labels to each project, and if you want to, change your settings so the color shows up on the card itself.
  • Put them in order of priority by dragging them around the bulletin board. When you finish something, change the color to green/light blue—then change one of your pinks to purplish blue—and reposition the project accordingly.
  • How I prioritize depends on a number of factors: how much time I have before going back to the revision cave (projects under contract always trump whatever else I have going on, but there are built-in breaks after you turn in a draft), what kind of work is needed for each project, etc. If I only have a week or two, I’ll move brainstorm and write synopsis sorts of things to the frontburner. If I have a month or longer, I’ll focus on drafting or revising. If I don’t know how much time I’ll have, I do the quicker things first and then move on to the more involved ones.

That’s it! Not complicated, really. If you keep up with the system, it should be easy to stay on top of your projects—the far more difficult task, for me, is choosing between ideas I love when there’s no clear reason to prioritize one over the other (the reason I have three projects marked pink right now!).

Happy writing/revising/geeking out over color-coded organizational systems!



4 thoughts on “Projects at a Glance

  1. Such a great idea, Kayla! I’ve used Scrivener to keep various projects organized, but doing it this way is so much more streamlined than what I was doing before. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Congrats on all the awesome book-related news!!!

    • Kayla Olson says:

      Thanks so much, Bridgid!! Yeah, I created my Scrivener ‘projects’ file months ago, but had only been keeping things in a simple list before this—I’m really excited about the index card method though, and think it’s going to be helpful going forward! (And thanks so much, re: all my news!)

  2. J.C says:

    FAB idea. I am still not quite connected with Scrivener, we don’t always see eye to eye, but this looks like a great way to make use of it!

  3. […] this week, I wrote a bit about all the projects bouncing around in my head, and the system I’ve developed to help me […]

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