Decluttering…The Finale!

Over the past few weeks, hopefully you’ve had the chance to slim down your filing cabinets and your schedule, you’ve gotten rid of that muffin that’d been on your desk for three weeks and was starting to leech spores into the air, you’ve updated your website and social media pages and even learned how to set realistic goals for yourself along the way.

declutter

Some lessons that I hope you heed from this series are that clutter accumulates a lot easier than it tends to disappear or become manageable. If you find yourself getting stressed out from the process of decluttering, remember to take some pointers from our “decluttering mindfully” piece. Go out for a run, write down your frustrations, take a nap, listen to a podcast or call a friend. Sometimes we need to take a break to achieve a task at hand, and it’s perfectly okay to let yourself do that in the interest of being more productive upon your return.

In that same vein, remember that “decluttering ambitiously” can be as important as decluttering your filing cabinet. This means setting reasonable goals for yourself (for cleaning up or for writing!) and using a calendar or schedule of some sort to keep yourself accountable for those goals. Maybe you didn’t have time for cleaning up shop this month because you were busy getting to your blog posts or finishing up a chapter you’d been working on. That’s okay. It’s never too late to organize. A rainy spring day when you can’t find the motivation to write or go outside might work even better for you–it’s called spring cleaning for a reason.

We all know time is precious, so “decluttering temporally” is a practice we can do without having to invest much time at all. This is as simple as being able to say “No”: to working extra hours, to going out when you just really don’t feel like it, to helping someone move, etc. etc. This can also be as simple as avoiding wasting your time on things like scrolling through a Facebook feed.

All that time mindlessly scrolling could, of course, be better used by “decluttering digitally” and cleaning up your author website and making sure your documents are organized in some meaningful way and backed up in case some sort of coffee catastrophe were to be unleashed upon your laptop or hard drive.

But when you do get around to it, remember that a cluttered desk–or room–often means a cluttered mind. Make sure that your physical desktop has only the essentials on it that you need for writing. No need to be stressing out about bills or constantly looking at that empty bag of chips while you’re trying to be productive and create a beautiful story! You ultimately want your workspace to be comfortable and to promote creativity and productivity. This might mean pulling some uninspiring books off the shelves and donating them to Goodwill. It might also mean spending a long time weeding out unnecessary files from your filing cabinet. But it might mean something more fun, like finding a piece of artwork for your walls or a comfortable chair for your desk!

Just remember, if it’s not aiding in your productivity or creativity and it’s even a little bit in the way, it should probably get completely out of the way. Decluttering sometimes means parting with the strange things we hoard and latch onto without any real rationale behind it. But I feel very confident in saying that ridding yourself of these cluttering items will only help you in the long run.

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The Series

  1. Decluttering … The Desk & Workspace!
  2. Decluttering … Clearing the Mental Clutter.
  3. Decluttering … Digitally!
  4. Decluttering … Your Schedule.
  5. Decluttering … Ambitiously!
  6. Decluttering … Publishing!
  7. Decluttering … The Archives.
  8. Decluttering … Your Bookshelves!

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering…Your Bookshelves!

Being a bibliophile doesn’t necessarily mean you should also exhibit traits of a hoarder. We’ve all been there, we found a book in a free bin outside the library, or picked up a book for a penny at a thrift store. Free, or nearly free, is always too good to pass up. However, if that same book has been sitting on your shelf for years now and you still haven’t touched it, or don’t intend to, it might be time to part ways with it, donating it to another free bin or free library.

Thinning bookshelves isn’t an easy task. We always convince ourselves that we’re going to read that book eventually, just not now. Or that that book we read that was absolute garbage is for some reason worth holding onto. A book on the shelf becoming a sort of notch on the belt, exemplifying your ultimate reading prowess.

organizing bookshelves

The best way to begin the process of thinning one’s bookshelves is to first come up with an organization strategy. Pull all the books off your shelf and organize by category and then alphabetically within that category. Or pick a different organization method that best suits you! As you do this, come to terms with books that you need to part ways with. That DIY crochet book that you bought ten years ago with the intention to learn the art of yarn braiding should probably get put in this pile, because we all know you never even bought a spool of yarn. If you’re the kind of person who just adores reading romance novels, you probably don’t need to keep all one hundred and fifty separate books with basically the same plot lines that you plowed through in a day due to the excitement and ease with which they read.

What you’re looking for when you’re thinning the shelves is what books actually inspire you to be a better writer. By all means, if you’re trying to write DIY books or romance novels, the above paragraph certainly does not apply to you. However, if you’re a fiction writer or a children’s book author, stick to a bookshelf full of authors you draw inspiration from. As fun as smut can be, we all know a truly beautiful or classic book when we see it. I love being able to walk over to my bookshelf and pick up a copy of Emerson’s Essential Writings and see what I underlined or highlighted from it when I was in college. When I go home to my parent’s house though, and am confronted with the books I store there, I am always amazed to find the strange books I hold onto–from a distance of course–that mean almost nothing to me. If you’re not lucky like me and have parents who you can outsource your hoarding to, put those books in a “bring to my parents house for ‘storage’ box”…wink wink. If that box just so happens to make it to a thrift store or other type of donation center…so be it!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering…The Archives!

You may know the feeling, you go to open a drawer and papers are protruding every which way, you have to force some down to even open the drawer at all and your impatience mounts at the idea of dealing with it for just two seconds, not to mention an entire afternoon of actually dealing with it by cleaning shop. For those of you who still utilize filing cabinets–the non-digital kind–let’s talk about the ways in which we can declutter the archives and the crud that often accumulates in file folders.

The best way to start the de-crudding process for a filing cabinet would be to either create or reaffirm what your filing system is. You need a method by which you consciously store your papers and documents and this method can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be, as long as it makes sense to you and helps you find what you need in a timely and convenient manner. Some options for organization are alphabetical, numerical, due date, project, chapter, book, character, etc. etc.

Next up, you should write down a list of the working files you’ve decided to keep in your cabinet. Name the files in such a way that they are immediately recognizable to you. Use book or chapter titles, character names, etc. if it’s related to your writing. If you happen to also keep your water and electric bills in that cabinet, definitely label them and keep them in a separate area from your writing files. Miscellaneous folders are no help to anyone. They are clutter traps and try your best to avoid them!

Feel free to spice things up and make the decluttering process more exciting for yourself. Use visually appealing folders, perhaps toss that filing cabinet that you can barely open without the drawer almost flying out onto the floor. Customize this system to your organizational and aesthetic preferences!

Next up: pull your files out one at a time and lay them on a flat surface–this can be the floor or your desk or whatever you’d like. This way, if you have items in the wrong folders, they clearly stick out and you can place them aside in a pile and correctly file them as you go. When you go to replace the files in the cabinet, be sure to refer to your filing system list you began by making.

Once all the already filed items are back in a row, ask yourself if you have a stack of papers that still needs to be filed. Having a tray or box for a stack like this is always a good idea, especially marked with some imperative like “to be filed.”

The fun part of cleaning out the ‘ole filing cabinet? You can have a nice bonfire or shredding party with all of your disposed paperwork. Pour yourself a glass of wine, beer, coffee, tea–whatever your drink of choice may be–and celebrate a clean (and organized) slate!

bonfire burning papers


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering…Publishing!

This week we’re going to discover the ways in which we can declutter our publishing lives. This begins by putting our wallets to good and simple use. What does this mean? It means paying only for what you need, not what you want, unless of course what you want comes affordably with what you need.

First you’ll have to sit down and decide what it is you need. Is it a children’s book? Do you need full-color illustrations? Do you need help with distribution? If so, there are packages offered by self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press (my employer) that can get you full color cover, interior, unlimited wholesale printed and distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others. A package like this could cover your needs while also providing a few things you want like an author representative and publishing consultant.

Those of us not writing children’s books don’t need to front the expense of full-color publishing. Basic publishing packages are a great way to provide authors who just want black and white interiors everything they need to make their publishing dreams come true, without stretching their wallets too thin while still providing a full-color cover, distribution, author representative, etc.

What if you’re just a hobby writer and don’t necessarily feel the need to have hard copies of your book? An ebook is a great way to fulfill your dreams of becoming published at a fraction of the cost. Not only that, a lot of readers are more apt to try a book from an author they’ve never read if it’s in the more affordable, ebook version.

Sure, some of us would love to have a literary agent, a world-class editor, the most prestigious illustrator, etc. However, if you’re on a budget and really just want to pursue your passion for writing/publishing, you should always consider what the bottom line is. You want to turn your manuscript into a book. There are relatively inexpensive ways to achieve that dream and still have a product you can be proud of. Companies like Outskirts Press are full of professionals who can help you create a beautiful book–or ebook!–that you can be proud of and that won’t leave you bankrupt.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have the time or the know-how to market your book once it’s completed and published, and you find yourself wanting help with that side of the publishing process, there are packages offered by Outskirts to help you with that. But if this is more of a want than a need that you can’t necessarily afford, consider networking with other self-publishing authors for advice. If time if your main concern, simply allot a few minutes a day to making a simple social media post. If you have slightly more time, write a short blog and try to keep it up to date. An online presence is a great way to keep yourself in the marketing loop, and it’s free.

No matter what budget you’re working with, you can afford to publish your book. Sometimes we just have to acknowledge what it is we need to accomplish that goal, and maybe even push aside some of our bigger wants.

paper airplane decluttering


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering…Ambitiously!

This week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can “declutter ambitiously,” or find ways to set realistic and simple goals for ourselves–including for decluttering! If you had a New Year’s resolution list that was far too grand for your lifestyle, now may be a time to take a look at your goals for the day, week, month or year and refine them to something more accomplishable.

calendar planning

 

  • Draw up some numbers

 

How many social media posts do you want to make per week?

How many blogs?

How many pages or chapters do you want to finish per month?

Do you want to have a completed book by the end of the year? Or multiple books?

These goals are very simple and easy to measure. Once you have these numbers down on paper, you can begin to create a schedule that will promote progress towards these now clearly defined goals.

If you want to get three blogs done per week, pick three days that best work with your schedule to do them and treat it like a homework assignment due on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for example. If you want a book done by the end of the year and you envision it having around twenty chapters, make sure you’re getting a chapter done every two weeks at least–you’ll need to give yourself extra time for editing of course!

  • Use a calendar!

This can be the calendar on your phone or computer or a good ole fashioned paper one. Use the data from step one to make yourself a schedule. Actively engage with this schedule rather than just look at it. When you complete tasks, use a symbol that shows you did so and reward yourself based on your consistency and progress.

This is also useful for noting when you may be realistically too busy to write some weeks, allowing you to stack your writing on other weeks when holidays, busy days at work, family vacations, etc., come up.

If you do use a calendar that is synced with your phone and computer, use the alerts that are available to prompt you and remind you of the commitments you made to your writing. Do not expect to be able to do all of your writing, blogging and marketing in one day, and do not clutter your schedule by even kidding yourself that that is a reasonable workload…which leads to my next point.

  • Set reasonable goals

For some people, writing 500 words a day is a walk in the park. For others, perfectionists and otherwise that might take a couple of days. If you’re honest with yourself you can avoid a cluttered schedule that just gets more and more backed up each day you fail to reach your goals each day. We all know what happens when we get overwhelmed by the idea of falling short of our overambitious goals–we grow anxious and are almost unable to work at all. This horrible paralysis can be avoided by just understanding yourself and being honest with yourself as a writer.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

 

Decluttering…Your Schedule

Making time to write is something we all struggle with. In our day to day lives, when we’re choosing between finishing laundry, making dinner, staying late at work, helping out a friend, etc., we’re probably going to put our hobby on the back burner. Sometimes, this is a necessary evil to remain a functioning human being who still gets eight hours of sleep at night. However, there are a few things that you can cut out of your schedule that are actually just time wasters and there are ways in which you can clear your schedule so that there’s always time for writing.

 

  • Stop using social media as a way to unwind after a long day.

 

In college, I often used StayFocusd, a Google Chrome app that helps you block certain websites for certain blocks of time when you want/need to be productive. Seriously, these things are great. You find yourself drifting off, go to open Facebook, and are immediately reminded that you are procrastinating. Scrolling through a newsfeed does not help you become a more well-rounded human being and does not teach you anything you don’t already know about the world–namely that people are self-absorbed and that politics are frustrating. Writing is time to focus on what matters–you and the things you care about. Clear out time wasters from your schedule and you’ll realize that those 20-40 minutes you spend per day on social media could be spent far more productively.

  • It’s okay to say “No!”

Nobody wants to be the naysayer. Someone needs you to cover a shift at work and they’ve asked you to do it, putting you in the awkward situation of not wanting to be a bad friend, but not wanting to add another shift to your already busy week. Guess what? When you’re overworked, you assuredly will be undermotivated to write. Sometimes you have to just say no. Putting yourself first doesn’t make you a bad person; if you think about it the person asking you for a favor is simply also putting themselves first, so you should follow suit and keep your spare time for partaking in the things you care most about.

  • Use a timer.

If you have two hours that you can allot to writing today, don’t force yourself to sit down and just hammer out two hours straight without blinking or using the bathroom. Set an alarm for every half hour and to give yourself five minutes to stand up from your desk, breathe some fresh air, grab a fresh coffee, etc. If you’re really on a roll and don’t need a break, so be it! But it’s always nice to be reminded that a break is an option, and it’ll keep you fresh!

  • Dial your meals

If you cook for yourself (which, hopefully…you do at least once in awhile), you know how time consuming it can be. Plan your meals out a week in advance and make them ahead of time. Throw together your breakfast and lunch while you make dinner and make lots of extras! This way, tomorrow you won’t be stuck with cooking, dishes, etc. all over again. This will free up hours between mornings, afternoons and evenings!

schedule scheduling agenda


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering … Digitally!

In the age of computers, our desks are not the only things that can get cluttered, but also our desktops, websites, social media platforms and web browsers. If you’re as OCD as I am, this type of clutter will be as, if not moreso, bothersome as the more tangible clutter we find lying around our homes.

So this week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can declutter digitally, something that is especially relevant for 21st century authors who utilize the ever pervasive technology of computers.

decluttering digitally

 

  • Streamline your author website

 

First off, if your domain name is anything beyond a combination of your first and last name, or some super vague play off of your favorite sports team, consider changing it, and if [yourauthorname].com isn’t available, try .org, .net or some other version of that.

If you use some free website hosting platform such as WordPress, make sure you choose a theme that is aesthetically appealing, and if you’ve had the same one for a while, consider changing it up.

Make sure that you have clearly branded yourself on your homepage with the type of writing you do and be sure to use relevant tags on all of your posts. If you have an outdated bio and/or photo, consider cleaning those up and making them fresh.

Don’t just have a cluttered list of all of your  books for readers to try and sift through. Create a page for each that they can easily purchase from. Be careful to not have too many pages though, as more isn’t always merrier. Also be sure that they’re labeled clearly–don’t try to get too creative and distract your readers from the content of your page.

  • Streamline your social media presence

Speaking of less sometimes being more, let’s talk social media. Now we all know we hate those folks that clog our newsfeed with 1,000 posts a day–from pictures of babies to overly political rants/links to news articles to inspirational quotes plastered over scenic backdrops of places you’ve never been. Those people tend to get “unfollowed” by me, meaning I could miss a lot of things they are posting that actually interest me.

First off, I highly recommend having a separate author page, so if you do post things like I mentioned above, they are not getting sent to your audience who probably does not care to see them. With your separate author page, be sure to only put out content that helps to promote your brand and the image you want your readers to have of you. If your post doesn’t meet that criteria, scrap it or delete it from the Timeline. You want readers to go to your page and scroll down and get a feel for you as an author right away.

  • Organize your documents!

This one may seem straightforward, but I know how easy it is to just save things with random titles in that all-embracing folder of “Documents.” However, when you go to look for that chapter outline you made four months ago before you even started your book and you named it something obscure that you can no longer remember…you’re going to waste precious time trying to hunt it down.

Folders are your friend. Create a folder for your manuscript and subfolders for planning, characters, chapters, etc. Each time you save something, plop it in the according folder and back it all up on Google Drive, or some other free online storage host, lest you fall prey to the almighty computer crash.

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Hopefully these few tips will help you declutter your digitized reality, which has become almost more real than reality itself.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com