I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I started writing Taylor Swift fanfic. I haven’t written another word of it since, but that’s fine.
Because this one little exercise—inspired by this prompt—made me think a lot about writing and life in general.
As a journalism major and someone who has written professionally for more than 15 years, I am accustomed to writing in a very structured way. There’s a “right” way to write, and I stick to it. Working in social media, I knew how to write to best game the algorithm.
I love structure, and I hate structure. (Hi, yes, I am an Aquarius.) Structure is safe.
I sat down to play with this writing prompt, and I decided to write about the Taylor Swift song Last Great American Dynasty. I kept checking the lyrics to see if I was writing “accurately.” But I wasn’t writing a review, I was writing fiction! I could write whatever the fuck I want!
And lately, that sentiment has been permeating throughout the rest of my life and thinking about the “rules” I’ve imposed on myself, the rules society has imposed on us. A silly example: telling myself I can’t read for pleasure or write for pleasure because I am in grad school. The time I’ve been intentionally carving out to do something pleasurable has made a really big difference for me lately.
There’s no rulebook for life, except to be kind to others—we’re all just making it up as we go.
I have a LOT going on this quarter in grad school*—and, ya know, there’s a ton going on in the world that can make it hard to focus. I spent a long time my first week this quarter looking for a project management software system that would help me stay on top of things. (*And I saw my first client last week!!! I’m happy to report we both survived.)
This may be a random post, but I love productivity hacks and seeing other people’s systems of how they get shit done, so here’s how I’m doing it right now.
I’m a writer. I LOVE me a good notebook. I also live in a one-bedroom apartment, and I am beginning to have notebooks piling up, so my organization quest started with looking for a solution to this. But also, I am super old-school and I retain information way better when I physically write, so I was hoping for some sort of solution that involved some kind of writing magic.
I asked on Twitter, and a TON of people suggested Rocketbook. It’s a notebook that uses erasable pens with paper you can wipe down. Once you are done with your notes, you scan the QR code on the page with your phone and it automatically sends it to places including Evernote, email, etc. I am generally really liking it—except, I am left-handed, so the left-hand side of the page gets a little smudgy, but not so much so that I can’t read my notes. You win some, you lose some?
I tried out a few different project management software thingers, but integrating with the Rocketbook was pretty important to me. The two other features most important to me were: a place to store class/training documents (notes, syllabi, etc.) and a way to see all of my tasks at a glance on a calendar. Unfortunately, the calendar part wasn’t an option in Evernote, but the rest of it seemed easy enough. I used to use Asana when I was at my last job, and I looked pretty closely at it this time, but there was no direct integration with Rocketbook. (I could have emailed to myself and then put in Asana, but I’m trying to streamline things as much as possible, not add steps, sooo.) But if you’re looking for a project management software that can hold all your to-dos AND files for projects, I think it’s a pretty damn good one.
Here’s a screenshot of my Evernote with a Rocketbook note so you can see how it all works together. As you can see, I have a LOT of notebooks because there’s a lot of stuff I’m juggling this quarter. (And then a few personal ones, and the Daily Burn one because I just couldn’t bear to delete it :)) Under Training and Workshops, you can see that there’s other notebooks—this is called stacking notebooks in Evernote, and once I’m done with this quarter, I’ll move it all into a Winter 2021 “stack.”
I wanted some kind of task manager where I could also set up projects for each class so I could see at a glance what was coming up and what was due. I put every single reading, e-mail, assignment, etc in here so that I don’t miss anything. I had really wanted a way to see a month’s calendar at a glance, and it doesn’t do that, which is kind of annoying.
But it does also sync with Google Cal, so I can at least see there if I have any huge due dates coming up if I am trying to schedule some kind of appointment.
The last piece in my productivity puzzle is Focus To-Do. The Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of focused work, 5 minutes off) is kind of the only way I can focus these days. Most of the time, I can work for twenty-five minutes if I know I get a five-minute break (or I take ten, sometimes) where I can check email/Twitter/etc. There’s also a feature for you to use it as a time-tracker, which I sometimes use to see how long a project is taking me. (Especially my paid writing work.)
Not many people read this blog any more, but I still wanted to use whatever small platform I have over here to talk just a little bit about current events and say that I, 1 million percent, condemn the white supremacist domestic terrorism attempt to overthrow an election/an entire branch of our government, incited by the president.
Also, I’d be remiss to say all of that and not mention Martin Luther King Jr. Day. May we one day see the justice he dreamed of—we have a long way to go. As a white person, I’m continuing to reflect on my role in society for this work beyond posting stuff online. In school, I am going deep on learning my role in white supremacy and how to be a culturally humble therapist. (As I’ve said before, a POC in a place to choose probably wouldn’t choose a white therapist like me, and I understand that!!! For those who can’t choose, I want to be there as best I can.) A cause important, related to that, is access to therapy—which is…not a good situation. I donate monthly to the Loveland Foundation, which provides scholarships for therapy to Black women and girls.
I don’t know how to end this now…so, be kind, rewind, and take care of yourself. Talk to me about social justice? or project management software? or tacos?