postitsHere is a question from one of Meggin’s academic subscribers.

With a toddler, teaching/service responsibilities, and the admin that comes with research, how can I effectively keep track of all the bits and pieces of different kinds of research tasks (and the different kinds of energy they take) so that I don’t reinvent the wheel with each next writing/research block? And how can I make this a portable/online system?

Since I am working on a book, the chapters come back in different states at different times whether proofed, commented on by colleagues, reverse outlined, latest draft, etc. How do I keep track of where I am at any moment? Those big wall whiteboard-like project management sort of things don’t work for me (since I have to work in so many different places in order to fit the writing in whenever, wherever!)

Meggin’s answer:

Slowly but surely, I would start trying to figure out what is repeated and create checklists that you can use. You can certainly upload these into the cloud. We use Dropbox and it helps IMMENSELY because either Margo or I can access them from wherever we are and do the things that have to be done.  Lots of people like Google docs for that, too.

From part of your question, I am not sure if each time you start writing/research, you have to backtrack over what you’ve already done - but if that is the case (which is common), give yourself a few minutes at the end of every research/writing time and make clear notes about “What’s next?” Not general, but really specific about the very next things that you would do if you could just keep working on it now. It helps you re-enter with ease. I wish I’d known that a lot sooner than I finally figured it out.

I started using a chart about a year or so ago because I was completely losing track of who had done what and when, etc.  Could you create a chart that showed the various stages of book chapters?

Note:  If you want to see a copy of the kind of checklist I keep on a project, just let me know in the comment box and we’ll get it sent to you.

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