Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

Favorite Writing Tools

As you can see from the feature photo, I’m learning to be a much more organized person. It’s been a long road, for sure, but well worth the effort. I’m not completely there yet, but better than I was.

This is some of what’s happening this week:

  • Easy morning’s on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I love these mornings of waking up slowly, doing some reading, and getting my thoughts together for the day. I’ll also me doing simple yoga/stretching those mornings.
  • Brunch at Aroma Joe’s on Monday, while working on a writing project.
  • At least one photography session. I’ve been working on some projects, both personal and for the blogs, and need to create some graphics.
  • Two morning walks, now that it isn’t too hot outside. I’ll bring the camera to photograph pretty scenery.
  • I need to add some posts to one of the blogs.
  • I have some fun projects to work on!
  • Some mini workouts will be happening.
  • The chores will get done.
  • I need to create a few book covers.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright September, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckPretty busy week ahead, to make up for the fact that I missed out on doing so much this week due to my day job. I love the number of blocks available for each day on this weekly planner, and that I can see at a glance what I have to (or get to!) do in the coming week. I love the style, and the crisp look.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright September, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckAnd this to-do list pad is great. The pad is spiral-bound, so the sheets will stay securely on the pad until I’ve finished everything on a list. There is plenty of space to note the most important tasks for the day or week, on a neatly written list. And it looks nice. Can’t beat that! With this pad, I can go into a bit more detail than with the weekly planner.

I chose the inkwell botanical planner and to-do list pad because I liked the black and white look, but there are others to choose from. I also love the fact that these products can be personalized. They are both put out by Stuck on You, with more stationary items as well. The company was founded in 1995, by mom of three Carrie Felton. They make attractive products for people of all ages. I’ll bet you’ll find something to match your office.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright September, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckThese big notebooks are great for many things. They are about 8″x10″, and are quite thick. This one is my financials notebook, and I’m using it to help me to get my financial life in order, and to plan for my future financially.

I’ve recently read The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness by Bari Tessler. You can read my review of her book here.

“Money… is about our relationship with ourselves.”~ Bari Tessler

Such a true statement.

I’m also reading Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach, and am filling out the workbook, and I follow Carrie Smith Nicholson on Careful Cents. I can use all the financial advice I can get!

I have two more of these large hard-cover notebooks, in different designs. One is for notes on things for the writing business.

The other is my planner notebook. This is my master planner of all I know I want to accomplish. From this planner, I split things by week using the weekly planner above. But this notebook serves another purpose as well. It helps me to decide, through a number of questions I ask myself at each ‘meeting’, what is working and what is not. What I should scrap, and what I should keep moving forward with.

Each of these notebooks has an attached ribbon to use as a bookmark. I look for deals, and have found two at Wal*Mart for $3.00 each.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright September, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckI also love this journal. I found it and another of the same size at AC More (2 for $10.00). They are half the size of the ones mentioned above, but also thick. Not all journals have that going for them. These journals have soft covers, and an elastic to use as a bookmark or to keep the journal closed. A journal like this is great to use when you want to plan a large project.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright September, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckThin journals are great for planning smaller projects. This one is the same size as the one above with fewer pages, with a nice cover design. It fits into my purse so I can easily bring it back and forth between my job at the inn and home; and wherever else I end up.

My writing document is done in Google Docs, and my notes, outlines, and other information are in the journal. I can easily work on this project anywhere, because I always have the information I need with me.

My laptop is another important tool. It holds copies of all my manuscripts, plans, outlines, and so much more, as well as gives me access to all my backed-up information and whatnot. Right now I have a Dell, but I used to use Hewlett-Packard. Both have work well for my purposes thus far.

As for backups, I use a few different things depending on the nature of each project. I don’t have the funds necessary to spend on backing everything up in the cloud, so I improvise.

  • A few of my blogs have backup that came with the hosting, though it is limited. This is helpful.
  • I have all my documents in my OpenOffice program, as well as in Google Docs unless they are backed up via blog.
  • Pictures are mostly in Dropbox, except for the older ones still in Google.
  • I have hard copies of most of my manuscripts.
  • I use email for a few things, mainly information I want to keep for a while. I’ve set up folders for specific things, and I just delete things when I’m done with them.
  • I have some things on flash drive.

The hard copies I keep are placed in folders and a file box. I found these on Amazon, and liked the design. I’m trying to do things a little more colorfully in my office space, and knew these would work. They are Carolina Pad Hot Chocolate file folders.

They give my files a more attractive look than the hanging file folders I was using, and I like that. Who doesn’t want a nice looking office space?

By the way, I use plants as a sort of tool as well. Not only do they make a space look better, they also provide a source of calm when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I look at the plants, take a few slow, deep breaths, and feel a lot better about whatever is going on.

We all need a calming force in our lives sometimes, and that’s what plants do for me.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright September, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckI also have favorite pens, and I use highlighters for various things. I love fine-point pens, and usually use black or purple ink. However, I do use red ink when editing.

Highlighter’s of various colors are used when working on projects. I usually choose a color for each part of the project, like color-coding. It helps to keep each mess of notes a little more organized.

Post-its are another thing I use, but not near as often as I used to. I’m making a conscious effort not to be as wasteful these days, but the post-its still come in handy for certain things.

 

And my cell phone and tablet are great tools. I take pictures with my phone. It’s a Straighttalk phone that takes as good a picture as my digital camera. It’s easy to upload from the phone to my blogs.

The tablet fits in my purse, so is easily taken with me when a laptop is not desired but I know I’ll be needing to look things up for projects.

What are your favorite tools?

Shannon

P.S. Thank you to the Stuck on You team for providing me with the weekly planner and the To-Do List Pad to try. Love the products and I’ll be recommending them to others.

 

 

 




Organize Your Space and Stuff by Shannon L. Buck Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. https://www.amazon.com/Organize-Your-Space-Stuff-Freelance-ebook/dp/B01BIEZYHK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Organize Your Space and Stuff (eBook)

Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.

A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!

Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.

103 pages (eBook)

Only $9.99 on Amazon

You may also enjoy

Kindle Cover Green Your Freelance Business




Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2016. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

How to Write a Blog Post in an Hour or Less

It used to take me about 15 minutes to write a blog posts, but they were shorter than they are now. I’ve decided to write longer articles from here on out, for the most part. There will still be a few short ones here-and-there, but I want to add as much as I can to help everyone out more.

I still generally only spend 20 to 30 minutes on the actual writing part, but that is because I do some things to prepare.

Today I’d like to share my process with you.

I have an idea notebook

It’s just a journal where I write my ideas and notes for each site I own. I separate it out in sections with sticky tabs, and write the name of each site on a tab. Every time I get an idea for an article, or any other type of idea for the site or blog, I write it down in the corresponding section in this journal.

This keeps all my ideas in one place, meaning I’m not wasting time searching for notes I’ve misplaced.

Photographs need to be ready

I make sure to take any photographs before I plan to write the articles. This way I can upload them to WordPress, slap on a title, and add the copyright information and a link to one of my online stores.

By doing this, I don’t have to worry about photographs while I’m writing.

Getting ready to write

When I know I’m going to spend some time writing articles, I take the idea notebook and look at the topics I’ve written down for the site(s) or Blog(s) I’ll be writing for that day or, as is usually the case, that weekend. (I usually do this on Thursday because I’m looking for writing ideas to use during my weekend hours at work. I work at the front desk at an inn, and often have downtime. I work 32 hours in a three-day stretch, so I need to be sure I have plenty to do when I’m not busy checking people in and out and taking phone calls.)

I take out a piece of paper and pen, and write down the topics I want to write about from the sections in the notebook. At this time, I spend a moment taking quick notes of anything significant I can think of. This way, I’m not wasting time when it comes to writing.

I put this paper, along with my calendars, in my backpack with anything else I’ll be bringing with me, so I’ll have it on hand when I’m ready to write.

I have a one-sheet yearly calendar for each site. These calendars help me to keep track, at a glance, of how many articles I’ve completed and scheduled for each place. I simply circle the date when each article will go live, on the corresponding calendar.

When I’m ready to write

Because I usually do my article writing at work, I do so during down time. Things must be able to proceed quickly. My list of ideas and notes is kept at my desk, as are my calendars and a pen, to make it easy to start typing when I have a few moments.

I open up the site administration area, and start a new blog post. The first thing I do when I get in there is set the feature image, then I write the article using my list and notes. I don’t worry too much about spelling and whatnot at this point, I simply need to get the words typed. When that is done, I add categories and tags, and then an excerpt.

This process takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the length of the article.

Finishing up the article

When I’m ready to edit, the first thing I do is click on the spell check icon. Then I read. Spell check programs aren’t always 100% correct, after all. Whether this check brings up mistakes or not, I read every sentence, sometimes changing up sentence or paragraph structure to make things sound better. I might delete something, or even add a sentence here and there. Whatever I determine is needed. But I read the whole thing.

Once the editing process is done, which takes under 10 minutes, I schedule the article to post on a specific date, circle that date on the corresponding calendar, and cross the article off my list.

And I’m done. In less than 40 minutes my article is schedule to post. It takes longer if I don’t go through the prep stages in advance.

This organization really helps with time management.

What process works best for you? How long does it take?

Shannon L. Buck




Top 10 Ways to Get Things Done

I have a confession to make. I’m not always the most organized person, though I am trying to get better at all the organizational stuff. It takes time, through trial and error, for some of us to pull of organized, and I’m learning new things each year.

I’ve spent a lot of time simplifying, which has been a great help.

  1. I keep a journal of writing ideas, separated into sections with sticky tabs. One section for each writing platform.
  2. I keep a writing prompts journal for fiction, and recently went through them organizing certain prompts by story series I want to write. Each series has its own folder.
  3. I have meetings with myself. I keep a sturdy notebook for note-taking, and this helps me to stay on track. I usually have these meetings with myself at Aroma Joe’s, as a treat for all I have accomplished.
  4. I take unnecessary items, like papers, folders, and notepads, off my desk before starting work. Less clutter is better for concentration.
  5. I use todoist.com to organize different projects. I have an app on my phone that is easily accessible, for adding and deleting items.
  6. My back pack has an area for my laptop and folders, with a pocket for pens and other little necessities and another for notepads and post-its. I use it as my portable office.
  7. I bought a desk with the income tax refund for last year. It has shelves and drawers that keep most of what I need organized.
  8. Another sturdy notebook, sectioned off and labeled with sticky tabs, serves as my note center for information such as general marketing, product ideas, and self-publishing. This helps me to keep hundreds of little notes organized. I now have far less sticky notes and scraps of paper cluttering my desk now, stands, and other areas.
  9. I utilize folders in My Documents to organize digital files. This, for example, helps me to keep the files for an ebook, book cover, marketing plan, etc., all in one place.
  10. I have another journal for names. This journal is sectioned off with the labels Female, Male, and Surnames. These are the names I have come across and want to use in stories.

These tools help me greatly. Want to learn more about organizing, from someone who knows this task is not always an easy one? Get my eBook Organize Your Space and Stuff. It will help you with your organizing challenges.

Organize Your Space and Stuff by Shannon L. Buck Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. https://www.amazon.com/Organize-Your-Space-Stuff-Freelance-ebook/dp/B01BIEZYHK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.

A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!

Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.

If you get anything from the eBook, please leave a review.

Shannon




6 Ways to Use Evernote

I first learned of Evernote from Angela Booth, and I’ve been using it ever since. There are so many things it is good for, using it will never get old. I quickly started creating projects, using a different notebook within the program for each one.

Here are some ways to get started using Evernote:

  1. Use a notebook to plan a series of guides for publication. Plan them in one notebook, or in any number of them. I’m using one to plan the steps in publishing an upcoming series if eGuides I’m working on. Going to the notebook and seeing all these steps in one place is helpful.
  2. Plan your blog posts in a notebook: What posts to create, research notes, photo urls, and more can be saved in one place. I have a notebook for each of my blogs and channels.
  3. Use a notebook to plan food articles, making note of recipes, research, and anything else you need to remember.
  4. Keep a list of reader questions from your blog or site, planning a weekly question to answer. Because I have a number of blogs and channels, I keep a list of these in each notebook.
  5. Use a notebook to plan out sections or chapters of a book you want to write. Or to do an outline for the book. Currently, I use a notebook for outlines. My plan is to expand on this, planning out each section or chapter as well, and adding notes from research where relevant.
  6. Keep a checklist in a notebook of all the non-writing related things you want to do for your business, or one for each blog. I do this in each blog’s and channel’s notebook as well.

I am a list person by nature. I love to check items off a to-do list. Evernote allows me to create checklists, and gives me a little box to check off for each item completed. I could not be happier.

Tips:

  • Use tags in order to look up like items later on.
  • Bullet lists can be used instead of check-off lists.
  • You can also use numbered lists.
  • Set reminders for items with a timeline.
  • Explore the other functions, like adding links.

How do you use Evernote? Let us know in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I love hearing from you, and respond to all comments and messages.

Shannon L. Buck




Make Your Work Surroundings More Pleasing

Photgraph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2/2016I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in my work space (A.K.A. my room.) It was a little drab and didn’t even have a desk until recently. Not my idea of an ideal work space, but I was thankful for what I had.

Recently I was able to spruce my space, and it looks more light and airy. I simply love it and thought, others would benefit from doing the same with their offices. So I decided to share some ideas on how you might spruce things up in your space.

  • Paint an old, drab desk white or another light color.
  • Add some houseplants to the space. Hang them above the window, place them on a stand, and add one to a corner of the desk.
  • Place a vase of flowers on the corner of the desk.
  • Put a framed picture of a loved one next to the flowers.
  • Place colorful cable holders at the back edge of the desk, to hold the cables for your work equipment when they don’t need to be plugged in.
  • Get rid of that old pencil holder that sits on the desk, and get drawer organizers to put the contents in.
  • Place a decorative cushion on a wooden chair, tying it down.
  • Lay a decorative are rug on the floor.
  • Change out the curtains to something light or bright in color.
  • Add a seasonal wreath to the door, switching it out with the seasonal changes.
  • Add colorful containers to hold supplies that are not otherwise organized.
  • Hang a painting on the wall, with a sconce on either side.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2/2016Maybe I felt the need to do this because I’m feeling like spring cleaning needs to be done now. It doesn’t really. Our weather here in Maine has just been messed up. But the nice days make me want to clean and spruce up everything in site.

I bought myself a new laptop, a printer, a desk, and a stool, as well as new folders because my old ones were so worn. My space looks so much better now, and I’m much happier now. I just need to get a few desk organizers, and I’ll be all set.

Having a nice work space certainly helps with the happiness factor.

In what ways are you sprucing up your office? With bright colors? Pastels? Let us know in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always respond to messages!

P.S. My new eBook is out! Organize Your Space and Stuff will help you to spruce up your office, keeping it organized and well-maintained. Check it out for only $9.99 on Amazon.com.

Shannon L. Buck




Creative Storage Container Ideas for Your Office

All you have to do is look. Why not bring along the family, or your closest friends, and make a day of it. Shoot for a flea market a couple of hours away. Get there early, and have a look around.

What can you find?

  • Old, large baskets to hold industry magazines, use as a waste can, or to put your notebooks in.
  • Smaller baskets for stock up items such as pens and pencils, paperclips, rubber bands, tacks, highlighters, and more.
  • Quart size canning jars make lovely pencils holders for the top of your desk.
  • Smaller canning jars will come in handy as well. Screw the lids and bands to the bottom of the shelf above your desk. Place small items such as staples, paper clips, and tacks, in separate jars, and screw the jars to the bands. This will keep those small items off the top of your desk for a less cluttered look.
  • Old cups and glasses might also hold pencils, markers, pens, and highlighters.
  • An old dresser can be spruced up, and different items can be stored within. This is especially useful if you want certain items out-of-site.
  • Old suitcases, stacked in a corner, are another way to store things you want hidden.
  • Decorative bowls, lined up on a shelf or on the top of a stand, will hold any number of items including post-its flags and index cards.
  • An old trunk would be the perfect place to put records you don’t need to see every day.
  • Old metal coffee cans, left as are, make great storage containers as well. Line them on the top of a book shelf to hold stock up items such as printer cartridges.
  • A card catalog drawer can be used to organize research information.
  • An old picnic basket will hold the items you always bring out to the porch, when you want to work outside.
  • Cigar boxes will also hold items you need to stock up on.

While it may be tempting to refinish everything you find, you may want to keep some of the original looks. They are full of character.

On the way home from your flea market trip, stop in to a few yard sales and antique stores. You never know what might catch your fancy.

Have you found any creative storage solutions? How have you made them work for your office space? Let us know below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all emails.

Shannon L. Buck

  • Creative Storage Solutions for the Freelance Writer
  • Organizing the Mess!
  • A Nice, Workable Desk Setup



Notebooks: Keeping Track of Ideas

Keeping track of ideas is important. After all, these ideas are what will keep your blogs, channels, websites, and more going when you need to add more content.  You don’t want to lose the ideas you come up with, but it is near impossible to get to all of them right away. They need to be saved until you have time to work on each.

How to keep track of your ideas is the question.

Notebooks are a good way to do this. One-subject, 3-subject, 5-subject, or even composition books are good for organizing all the ideas you will inevitably come up with.

I have new ideas every week, sometimes every day. It seemed that I had a million pieces of paper scattered here and there around my room, notes on my computer, and even in my phone. The mess was very cluttered, and I knew something had to be done.

My solution was to use a separate notebook for each blog and channel, and I do have a few.

I started with the blogs. I have this one (How to Live the Freelance Life) and two more: Frugal is Fabulous! and Frugal Recipes – Spending Less to Eat Healthy. Feel free to take a look at them. There’s good information on them that will help when you are low on cash.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2013.

As you can see, I decided to spice things up a bit and go for colorfully designed compositions notebooks for this project. Then I moved on to my channels: Bangor Frugal Living, Bangor Easy Meals, and Bangor Single Mom. This time striped composition notebooks were used. These colors make things just a bit more interesting.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2013.

  • To begin, I wrote the name of each blog or channel on the front of each desired notebook in black permanent marker.
  • Then I collected all those little pieces of paper, taping each into the appropriate notebook.
  • Next I copied information from my sticky note program on the laptop into each notebook, as well as any other notes I had online and in the documents.
  • Finally, wrote in the notebooks any ideas I had in my head, as well as the what I had on my phone.

The whole thing was a process, but it worked out well. I’m much more productive with things all in one place for each venue. Having everything for the blog or channel I am working on all in one place is a real time saver.

These notebooks should be kept where they are easily accessible, such as lined up on a shelf, or at the corner of a desk.

How do you keep track of your article, post, story, and other ideas? Let us know below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always answer my emails.

Shannon L. Buck




Project Progression

Just Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2013wanted to check in to let you know that I am still moving forward on the eBook I’m creating for you. It is a process, for sure, but will be worth it in the end.

I keep coming up with more and more ideas for the book, as well as some for new blog posts. Score, twice! Good news for readers.

I have cleared all the formatting from the articles, so I can reset it all for ebook formatting. And I started editing the articles, adding updated information, and suggesting action steps that readers can follow to easily implement different things into their businesses.

If you follow the steps in the ebook, you will have an organized, nicely decorated office space in no time.

Hoping this ebook with be helpful to each of you.

Shannon L. Buck




Code Word: Simplify

My theme for 2015 is simplify, which I mentioned in Do You Have a Theme Word for 2015? I Do. I thought I’d post an update on how this is going.

This basket used to hold all these things. But, my sister gave me an amazing gift so I now have a new holder for everything. A pretty tote that Sheila made for me.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

Isn’t it beautiful? And it came filled with lovely items such as pens, highlighter, post-its, notepads, legal pads, notebooks, and an apple scented candle.

And…

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015tea, this wonderful mug, and a gift card to my favorite restaurant – Applebee’s. And man, did I feel appreciated. So many wonderful things.

The back of the mug says “And thanks for putting up with us. With Love, The Sisters.” Because I proofread stories for them. Even though I hate to. I am loved <3

Anyway, my tote organizes things nicely, with special pockets along the outside for all my favorite pens and other items. I love it!

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014My binder is mostly updated with article locations. It will be so handy when finished. I wont have to waste so much time looking up where specific articles are.

Creating this planner was a great idea. Each month, I can work on any number ofPhotograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014. projects. And, with no self-imposed deadlines on my own projects, I have a greater sense of freedom. No more rushing to get things done at the end of an already busy month. I just pencil those few things into the next month and call it good. Way less stress.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I am completely loving my new tablet. It is simply amazing! So happy I decided to get it. There are many things that are quicker and easier to accomplish on it than is the case with the laptop. This saves me some time each week, and is an easy way for me to get things done when I only have ten or fifteen minutes between other projects.

After downloading a notebook app, I am able to quickly make notes when I only have a couple of minutes. I have a notebook set up for each blog and channel. More to come on this app and others that I find useful.

Things are coming along with my simplification efforts, and I am pleased.

How are your theme word efforts coming along. Share in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always reply to emails!

Have a wonderful day!

Shannon