How About a Systems Audit?
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I know, I know. You hear the word “audit” and you imagine that a root canal would be more fun, right?
Let me make the case for scheduling time to perform an internal audit of all your systems. This is my week to do it and I’m already well on my way. As some of you know, I’m a systems junkie. I love organization, productivity, and developing new ways to track information and, hopefully, to do my job more efficiently.
This week I’ve already solved a major glitch in my computer back-up systems. I plan to set a new model for doing email. I’m going to update and analyze my submission tracker system. I’m also going to begin an update on my clients– where they are and where they need to go. It’s more than I can hope to accomplish in one week, but I plan to get as much done as I can and then create a schedule for completing the balance.
Systems and organization are not just for agents, however. I often teach a class for writers called Discovering Your Organizational IQ. If you’d like to assess how you fare when it comes to organization you can take my quiz here. But whether you are an Organization Meister, an Organization Maven or even Organization-challenged, you can benefit from taking time to analyze your tools and systems.
As a professional writer, you are an entrepreneur. Yes, writing is an art but if you are writing for publication, you are as much a business person as you are an artist. You need systems for filing things in your computer and in your office. You need to plan a protocol for naming computer files so you can immediately access those files and identify which edit is the latest and best. You need to log in your royalty reports to keep track of the number of books sold per title. You need to keep a running tally of cumulative books sold. (That’s how writers know when they’ve hit one million books sold– a cause for big celebration.) And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
If you are yet unpublished you’re not off the hook. You may have even more to keep track of– submissions, contests, agent queries, etc. You need good systems to keep all this in order. And if you get it all in place now it will become second nature by the time you’re published, when time will be at a premium.
We all need to keep our tools in top shape. Is your computer sluggish? Maybe it’s time to move some media files to external storage. Do you have glitches you haven’t taken time to fix? Your audit week is the time to get everything running smoothly. Even if you have to sit on the phone with a tech, set aside the time to do it. It will save you many wasted hours of work-around gymnastics over the long haul.
Your turn. What aspect of your work is out of control and driving you crazy? What do you need to fix? Are you spending too much time with email? How can you fix that? Is your inbox filled with unsolicited newsletters and ads? Do you know how to slow down the deluge? Is your newsfeed on Facebook filled with people you don’t know? Did you know you can change that? I encourage you to set aside time to work on the things that are slowing you down.
And. . . please share the time-saving systems you’ve already put in place.
Is everything in your office humming along or is it time for a systems audit? Click to Tweet
January is the perfect time to get organized says literary agent @wendylawton. Click to Tweet