Yesterday I talked about a few general tips for managing a book blog while also being a full-time student. Those tips were pretty general because it’s a very personalized thing, staying organized, but today I wanted to dive into how I stay organized.
This post may be really helpful for y’all or it could be a waste of time, depending on who you are and what your style is. I’m not claiming that these methods are the “best” way of doing things, they are just the best for me.
I wanted to start with this because it’ll likely be the longest section and will cover the bulk of my organization methods. Before I get into it I want to make it very clear that this post (or the giveaway) is NOT sponsored by Erin Condren in any way. I am a new customer who, so far, likes the purchases I’ve made and I want to share with y’all. Any links to the Erin Condren website ARE affiliate links but ANYONE can have one of those if they make an account on the EC site.
Like what you see below? If you make an account on the Erin Condren website using THIS LINK (or any of the links to the EC website in this post) you get a $10 off coupon and so do I! (Info about referral system)
I just wanted to make all of that clear for y’all so you don’t feel like you’re being deceived or anything.
Anyway, let’s get to the part that y’all ACTUALLY care about: the planner. So I ordered an Erin Condren Life Planner and got it less than a week ago. I haven’t had it long enough to absolutely promote it as the best thing ever but so far I like it. The reason I got it was that it covers all the things that I used to do in 3 separate planners and puts it into one (i.e. a monthly
I’m managing my life around
- grad school (which consists mostly of my pre-service teaching courses and then student teaching in the spring semester)
- 2 jobs
- my blog
- my amateur candle making (hope to make it an actual business soon)
- my novel/writing projects
It’s a lot to keep track of. I break my planner weekly spreads into 3 main sections (the EC planner makes this easy with the vertical layout): school/teaching, general notes for the day, and personal (blog, candles, writing). If you have questions about how I manage the non-blog parts of my life, leave a comment since I’m mainly going to focus on blog stuff here.
New books for review. Any time I receive a new book for review, whether it’s a physical ARC/finished copy or an eARC, I open up my planner and schedule my review. The day I pick is based on reviews I’ve already scheduled out, when the publishing house prefers reviews to be posted (within 30/14/7 days of release), and my personal schedule. These dates aren’t set in stone but I generally don’t move them too much.
I always do this in erasable pen because 1) I like writing in pen, and 2) if I need to change it I can.
Blog tour posts. This goes with new review books. Anytime I’m included on a blog tour I immediately add it to my calendar with any important details (post topic, extra notes, etc).
Upcoming pre-orders. Each week, usually under the Friday column, I make a section for “Upcoming Pre-Orders” where I list the books I have ordered that are coming out in the NEXT week. I do this under the previous week before the weekend for a couple reasons. First, if I want to schedule out any social media posts to celebrate the release of those books I have a few days to do that. Second, I’m a college student and though I budget for pre-orders, sometimes emergency purchases happen (like me and parts for my car these last few weeks. . .). I don’t cancel a pre-order unless I have to but if I’m going to do it, I need to do so before it ships so Friday is a good day for that.
Bookstagram tracker. I try to post twice a day on each of my book accounts (I run my main NovelKnight account but also a title page feature account). Under each day I make 4 boxes which I color in, 2 for each account, when I’ve either scheduled a post for that day or post in the moment. This helps me keep the accounts active.
General to-do’s. Each week I include a general to-do list in the notes section of the weekly spread listing the following 4 items:
- Reviews – Do I have any reviews I need to write?
- Comments – Have I responded to all blog comments?
- Queue – Have I filled my social media queues? (Buffer usually takes a few days of this, Tumblr I can fill for roughly a week of posts)
- Emails – Have I responded to all emails in my inbox?
These are just general reminders to myself throughout the week.
I actually don’t do much with my monthly spread (at this time) for the blog. I used to keep a planner that was JUST for NovelKnight and it was only monthly spreads where I would schedule out my reviews but now I just do that in the weekly spread of my life planner and mark with a little dot in the corner on the monthly spread if I have a review scheduled for that day or not.
The EC Life Planner includes a notes section at the back that is a combination of lined pages and dot-grid pages.
Trades and giveaway prizes. I track any trades I have going on as well as any giveaway prizes I need to mail on the lined pages, including the person’s handle and what’s being traded/what prizes are being sent. When I receive their mailing info, I write it on a sticky note with their handle and put that on the opposite page so I have it when I go to pack up the book(s).
Blog post ideas. I used to keep a list of these in a random notebook but now I just keep everything in the planner. These also go on a lined page and it’s just a running list of post topic ideas and checkboxes I added to mark ones I’ve already written (like this one!).
Book backlog. I don’t always have a chance to read every single book I receive for review in time to post a review before release so I keep a record of the ones I have left on a dot grid page.
Book mail tracker. This is something I just do for me because I was curious. I get book mail through UPS and USPS so I track where it says it’s coming from (like the name of the “company”) and any reference numbers associated with it. When the book arrives I mark which publisher that item was from and for several I can now tell which imprint a book is coming from based on this info. I love knowing ahead of time (not much of a surprise person) so this was just a weird little thing I do for me.
That’s what I put in my planner but I do a few other things to keep the blog rolling.
WordPress Drafts + Editorial Calendar
I blog on a self-hosted WordPress website and have a plug-in called Editorial Calendar downloaded. You don’t need this to have draft posts (obviously) but what it does is show me a calendar spread of all my blog posts. I can easily move posts around while they’re drafts, “quick draft” new posts (I do this once I schedule a new review book in my planner), and so on. It’s a really useful plug-in to see which days already have posts scheduled and which don’t (especially helpful if you have multiple bloggers on your blog).
No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I have something to write on. Generally I always have a notebook or loose paper with me regardless but when I don’t, I use Google Keep which is basically a better version of Windows Sticky Notes. The notes will sync across your devices and it’s free. You can add images, lists, etc. to keep organized. If I get a post idea, need to add something to my to-do list, suddenly break that horrid writer’s block, I can jot whatever it is down either in my notebook or on my phone/computer and then transfer it to my planner if I need to or to my writing folder on my laptop.
Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-in
I’ve talked about this plug-in before so you can just read my post on it and the other plug-ins/add-ons from NoseGraze that I use here on the blog but essentially these plug-ins save me a LOT of time when it comes to formatting reviews and keeping track of book info. My review archives update automatically and each review formats based on my settings for all review posts to keep it uniform. I can’t recommend them enough!
It sounds like a LOT when you break it all down but a few simple things keep my life (and blog) together. A reminder that this is not the end-all of ways to organize, just my way that I wanted to share!
How do you stay organized?