Since I began blogging, I’ve found my mind tends to get extremely cluttered with great ideas and good intentions. I find myself continuously thinking about new articles, ways to monetize, affiliates to join, shortcuts I discover, products I like, services I want to remember to praise, the list goes on and on. All of which I would think of, get excited about – then forget! Just like that!
I do have a notebook in nearly every room of my house and keep a clipboard next to my workstation where I make notes throughout the day. However, over time, I end up with lots of notes without organization.
Years ago, a close friend of mine, Julie Bonner introduced me to the idea of a Blog Binder. I did create one. And I actually did use it for a while. As work decreased and real life shifted it’s gears up a notch, I forgot about that valuable organizational tool that was tucked away in a box when we made our move back in June of 2010.
Having been formally diagnosed with OCD, I have this overwhelming *need* to be and stay organized. Chaos is not my friend. While driving recently (the time when many bright ideas come to me and I can’t write them down), I remembered my binder and decided it was high time to dig that baby out, update it and put it to use again.
The way I have my binder organized is customized to my own projects, schedule and habits. You can take from the suggestions and improve on them to suit your own needs, which is exactly what I did with the suggestions Julie gave, way back when.
This is how I have my binder laid out
My Work Schedule:
At the front of my binder, I have a schedule written out. It’s not an hour by hour schedule, because we all know working from home has it’s interruptions throughout the day. What I have done however is write out descriptions of projects I wish to focus on daily. For example, Monday focuses on traffic, Tuesday I visit new blogs, Wednesday I explore new affiliate options, Thursday may be social networking and so on. I find that if I dedicate specific days to certain projects, I do get more done. If I happen to miss a day, just like a prescription medication – don’t double up on the dose, just get back on schedule the next day.
Keeping It Organized:
Since I do have multiple blogs, and a couple of contract gigs, I took Julie’s suggestion and created a tabbed divider labeled for each blog/gig. Behind that divider, I have placed blank sheets of paper where I keep track of post ideas, items that must be done, new blogs within my niche that I wish to revisit, links to or mention, etc. I don’t allow myself to be interrupted to really visit a blog if it’s not on the schedule. Stay focused!
There are so many times I come across a great post that focuses on a topic that I need to pay a little more attention to and that I want to keep for reference for future projects. I’ve created a section in my binder that holds those articles. I simply print them out (because taking notes would take too much time) and write on the top in bright marker a single descriptive word so I can easily flip through and find the articles focusing on the topic of the day – when that day rolls around.
Creating a binder is really very simple and cost effective. Nothing more then a pack of paper, a 3-ring binder, a pack of dividers, and perhaps a 3-hole punch for those printed articles. A very small price to pay for getting that clutter out of your head and into a single, well organized location.
When you’re working toward building your online reputation, building your freelance business, kicking up your affiliate marketing a notch or simply writing because you have something important to say – this method will help keep the chaos at bay so you can get right to the valuable project at hand.
What are some of your favorite organizational habits or tips?
My Comment Commitment: If you leave a comment on any of my posts, I will visit your blog and “share it” in some way whether on StumbleUpon, Twitter or Facebook depending on if I can find a nice fit. This is my way of saying thank you!
Image source: stock.xchng
Ashley Lorelle says
Wow, what a great idea to get organized! I find my blogging life so disorganized that I often forget blog ideas and I’ll go too long without posting something new. A blog binder may motivate me.
When it comes to organization, I used to be so good at it. Not sure what happened ha ha BUT I now use Evernote and mind maps plus white boards to keep track of everything. I really need a more organized system for all the commitments I have but I’m getting there. Paper clutter is overwhelming me so I’m not sure a binder would work for me. Maybe for my personal sites and blogs but for clients I don’t think so.
Dina Santorelli says
I could use me a Blog Binder. I miss those days of pen and paper, although I admittedly lost, I’m sure, lots of great ideas that got scribbled onto tiny pieces of paper. Thanks for the organizational idea!
Laura Finger says
I’m laughing as I type because I started using a binder last week for all of my blog related stuff. In my previous job, I worked with records managers, who were gleefully aware that they were all OCD and Type A. They really taught me a lot about organization and being uber prepared for anything. And they used lots and LOTS of well organized and tabbed binders.
For an order- averse creative type, this was pretty foreign to me, but I can attest that using a binder really helps keep my info in one place, and it’s was a great “study” guide, even when I’ve been doing something for a while. I use one for every big project I take on: writing a novel, volunteering for a program, etc.
I love this idea… now it’s about finding the time to actually do it.
@Angie ~ I never heard of Evernote. I checked it out and it looks SO cool! Right up my alley!
I was just popping in to recommend evernote. I also always keep a notebook, similar to a moleskine with me at all times. Just one though because multiple notebooks drove me crazy. The last tip I have is to email notes to yourself. Just choose your subject line wisely so that you can find the notes when you need them.
Shauntee Jackson says
This article is such a big help to me!! Thank you so much for publishing this. I am just starting out in the blogging world and I need to continue reading things like this to help me go forward. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for that. I write on a number of topics in different places. I read magazines for inspiration, then leave magazines or individual articles lying around, then when I have time I can’t find what to write about.
I read your article and then put together a binder so I can put my ideas and magazine clippings in one place. Why did I not think of it before?
James Tennant says
Sounds like a great way to keep yourself organised. I keep everything on the PC so maybe I should get myself a binder to organise my days…
Food for thought anyways. Thanks Gayla!
Aaron Poehler says
I can’t help thinking this would be just yet another thing to keep track of and to lose my mind over when it’s misplaced. Interesting system, but perhaps if it could be implemented on a smartphone somehow it’d be more effective for more people.
Renee Banzhaf says
One of my very favorite writing tools is Scrivener. It’s a software program developed by a writer just for writers. It used to only be in mac but now it is also in windows. For those who may not want to do a paper binder, Scrivener sets up all of your writing in binders. You can essentially do the same thing digitally (and save a bit of paper, especially on the articles). I love this idea of the blog binder and am going to try this using my Scrivener software versus a physical one. However, there is always the allure of being computer free for a while and sitting with my thoughts, a pen, and paper, which is what the physical binder would accomplish.
Anyone interested in scrivener can find it here http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php
(I’m not affiliated with Scrivener in any way except being a fan of it.)
Gayla Baer-Taylor says
@ Ashley – Motivation can come in many shapes and sizes – hope it works 🙂
@ Angie – I tried to use Evernote – but found that I needed to revert back to more traditional methods of keeping notes. There are some clients I’ve had this wouldn’t work for – but for most – it’s the easiest and most accessible.
@ Dina – It’s amazing how removed we become from simple pen and paper isn’t it?
@ Laura – I’ve worked with those types before – in fact, I wound up marrying one. If we could find a way to label and tab our lives in a binder, I think we just might 🙂
@ Beverly – It’s actually much easier to put together then it sounds. I bet you could have it done in about 10 minutes.
@ Cathy – There have been times that I’ve texted ideas to my email so I wouldn’t forget if I’ve been out and didn’t have a means of writing it down – I’ve never emailed myself though. Good idea 🙂
@ Shauntee – Just starting? There are so many great ideas and tools out there for beginners. I feel ancient in the world of blogging when I see the valuable resources there is now compared to when I began. Good luck with your work! 🙂
@ Tina – Congrats on the binder. I hope it works well for you 🙂
@ James – With the last couple of weeks that I’ve had and the challenges I’ve faced with technology – I love keeping information on my computer too – but it’s always good to have a backup plan.
@ Aaron – Smartphones are great, but I do fear storing too much information on electronic devices and then disaster striking. It’s happened to me too much lately – again, I’m sticking with pen and paper as my backup plan 🙂
Wow, I never thought that having an organization in writing goals can be beneficial. I usually write articles in my blog whenever I feel like writing hehe. But I observed that I can write 3 x a week.
Rick Barlow says
Evernote. It’s your digital blog binder — or life binder — accessible from any digital device. You’ll love it.
Krissy Brady | Sell Crazy Someplace Else says
I created a notebook similar in scope to your blog binder, and it’s amazing the difference in my productivity level, AND amount of daily hits. I highly recommend this to all bloggers who haven’t done so–not only does it give your readers something to depend on each day, the sense of accomplishment you feel is priceless.
Thanks for the great idea of the binder! I just set one up, as I realized I had an empty one ready and waiting to go. I like the idea of keeping all my notes, article clips, and schedule together in one place. I already keep a folder on my computer desktop with blog ideas from online resources as well, so now I might look for a way to integrate them, or cross reference. I like Evernote as well, and Box.net for organizing files and ideas in the Cloud.
I like the idea of blog binders, but I’m fond of using Google documents. I cut and paste articles (including the source), recipes, news stories, books I want to read. etc. My writing projects are in Google docs also.
Definitely a great idea. I have never thought about that before. Thanks for sharing it with us. I am going to give it a try starting this week.
Autumn Rhea Carpenter says
I consider myself an organized person, but these are great suggestions that I hadn’t heard of, including Evernote and Scrivener. I’ve been a lurker, but hope to contribute more to the conversation in the future. (Check out my blog, The Adventure Experiment http://www.autumncarpenter.net/blog/)
Thank you very much for the great tips. I manage a few blogs and am going to try and implement something like this.
Heather Shaw says
Okay, first and foremost…love your comment commitment. I might just have to borrow that idea!
I actually just recently bought a 5 subject notebook to keep my blogging/freelancing in order. So far it has made me MUCH more productive on a day to day basis, but I keep waiting to forget about it. I’m about as far from OCD as you can get, and organizational attempts typically end up backfiring on me pretty quickly.
Have you ever thought of maybe doing a video showing your blogging binder? Or a more detailed post with it broken down into sections?
Kirsten Silven says
Thank you so much for this post! I just started a binder earlier this week and you gave me some great ideas to get it organized!
I use Evernote too and keep all of my emails in specific folders for each client or ideas. I need to stay organize otherwise I can’t work at my best. I still use a notebook and pen for the times that I’ve been away from my PC. I’ve started to use an iPad and that’s opened up a whole new world for accessibility and not having to carry my laptop everywhere!
Jessica, The Debt Princess says
I love this idea and I was just in the developing stages of making one when the link to this post crossed my path on twitter.
I love the idea of focusing on one area each day. I tried to do a very detailed schedule so I touched on each part throughout each day and that went to pot. It just didn’t work.
I’m going to get to work on my binder tomorrow.
I must check out Evernote now!!
I have a strong love/hate relationship with paper. I enjoy the physical act of writing things down, but I can’t stand trying to find what I wrote later. I pretty much use paper just for my personal creative writing now and scan it into onenote when I’m done. Love that software. Still running the original version on my Windows7 PC without complaint. I’ve heard evernote is good too. scrivner is new to me.
I also use an excellent free to do list software called…wait for it…”todolist” by Active Spoon. It lets me organize tasks in a tree, repeat them, color code them, etc. That way, all my weekly blog tasks are there. I can quickly add a task when a new idea hits me and get back to it when I have time. Because I look at it every day, it helps me keep ideas stewing until they are ready to be implemented…
Gayla Baer-Taylor says
@ Ian – I can easily ‘write’ 3 or more times per week, but I’ve found if I don’t have a clear, concise plan, I tend to get a little scattered with my thoughts and my direction becomes so unclear. I’m a “must have organization” kind of girl 🙂
@ Rick – While I do love my digital organizers, I’m learning from horrific experience to not put all my work and projects in a basket I can’t access during ice storms and thunderstorms 🙂 It’s good for me to spread myself around a bit.
@ Krissy – Glad to see it’s working for you 🙂
@ Don’t you just love coming across simple ideas that pack a punch? 🙂 Good luck, I hope you find it helpful.
@ Gran – Google docs was a nice option for me too – until Snowpocolypse 2011. That’s when I took stock in how much I stored online versus how much I keep in a good, old fashioned method I can use with or without electricity 🙂
@ Hank – Hope it works out well for you!
@ Autumn – Welcome, I look forward to your contributions 🙂
@ Andy – Good luck with your blog binder 🙂
@ Heather – Borrow away girl! I love anyway possible to help build community! To be honest, I DID actually take pictures of MY binder – but then I realized that there are some things that I just have to keep secret. I’m happy to share tools and tips, but a couple of niches have got to be my little secret 🙂 lol Sorry 🙁 If you have specific questions though – feel free to email me privately gayla @ gaylabaer.com – always glad to help.
@ Kristen – Glad I could help. I LOVE the Kentucky magazine covers. I have some very deep roots in Eastern Kentucky. 🙂
@ Bridget – I’ve heard a lot of people lovin’ their iPads. I’m not quite there yet. I’m afraid if I became “too” mobile and connected, I’d miss out on some pretty special things with my family. It’s necessary for me to stay restricted to my single computer for now 😉
@ Jessica – Wow what a couragious blog. Good luck! Thanks for stopping by.
@ Killer – Thanks for the suggestions and for stopping by! 🙂
Heather @ Side of Sneakers says
I’m constantly making lists and marking articles & websites- only to never go back and look at them. Having a physical binder in my hands might just be the answer- and make it worth it to print stuff out. 🙂
Liz Nord says
I love receiving your post updates! I would like to learn more about the basics (in detail) of monetizing my blogs or actually getting (not just searching) for freelance jobs. I have two blogs, http://www.secretsofmoms.com and http://www.plussizemodelsunite.com. Plus-Size Models Unite interviews high profile plus-size models and other inspirational women (like Laurel Touby from Mediabistro.com), who promote positive body image, self-esteem, and confidence. My blogging partner and I were invited to be on the Leeza Gibbons radio show, “Hollywood Confidential” last year. I feel like it’s going fine, but don’t know how to take it to the next level or if I should just go freelance. Secrets of Moms is just two months old, and I have already received a request to write an article in Redbook magazine, which comes out in the April issue in two weeks. I think that will help grow my readership numbers. I have people interested in what I’m doing, but how do I catapult that into a writing or blogging career? I would love to write full-time! Thank you in advance for any advice you may have
Have a great weekend!
All my best,
Oh wow.. I just did this for my writing and blogging gigs and am loving it.. Mine focuses on private writing contracts as well as my personal blogging gigs. I have days for job hunting, networking, visiting blogs, studying analytics and yeah, for writing too. earlier my home management binder was doubling up as my blog binder, but with growing demands, I decided it was time to make a separate organizer for blogging and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made:-)
Christina Crowe says
What a wonderful idea! All this time I’ve been managing loose papers or tacking notes on the wall. I never even thought about organizing a binder specifically for blogging! Absolutely ingenious!
Well, now’s the perfect time to put things to rights. Thanks for the tip!
I guess this was just the inspiration I needed on a cold saturday morning like this…
I am not good at hand written notes (as they tend to end up in my pocket and eventually in the laundry), but I will give this a try using OneNote from Microsoft. In fact, it just took me 5 minutes to get this set up and will spend the next 10 filling in the work schedule. 🙂