Productivity and writing – Free tools for blogging

So, let’s recap: I’ve been two weeks in Northern Ireland trying to relax, recharge energies and to review the situation. Did it work?

Yes, it did work.

The 12th of January I came back to Italy (if you want, you can read about my return travel with thrills attached) and I had a little (but though) meeting with myself: I found out I was finally rested, relaxed, but still with mixed up ideas and a lot of confusion among m channels. A sentance I heard often workin in the web ambient, generally referred to blogs and sites, is (literally, from italian way of saying) “the cobbler goes around with broken shoes“: and it’s true; since there’s a lot of work to do for the clients, we end neglecting out communication, and it’s bad because that’s our business card.

This is the first thing I want to fix during this 2015.

To do so, I said myself, I have to do a very hard thing for me: to organize my time. Control is one of my weak points: I have a million ideas that, instead of creating new projects, end confusing me and stealing energies.

TLOCLuckily I’m not the only bad organizer of her time, so some philanthropists, that surely have organization in their blood, thought to create tools for people like me.

After a search on the web, I passed some days trying the tools to find the best ones. After a fight with my inner chaos, here is the resulting list of tool I decided to use.

TODOIST

todoist_1
(don’t let the logo deceive you, the app is very colourfull!)

When I sent a message to Francesca Baldassarri (no less but the Captain of Etsy Italia Team), from whom I got the hint for this tool, she told me she was “infected” herself: yes, infected, because Todoist gives addiction and it’s a task manager with something more. What? The karma.

Essentially: thorugh an easy interface you create the tasks, giving them an expiry date and a theme (e.g., some of mine are: “Bohemian Wanderer”, “CartEssenza”, “Work”, “To read”…).

With the classical ticking system, as you complete the tasks they are deleted from the list, but they don’t disappear: for every task ended in time, some points are added to our global score, called “karma”. If we can’t complete the task in time, we lose points. Karma is divided in different levels, going from Beginner to Enlightened.

Also, the activities are all together in a productivity diagram (last 7 days in the free version, last month in the premium one). It’s especially here that there’s the addictive part: the gaming factor push to complete more tasks.

COSCHEDULE

cos-logoOk, now my tasks are in order, but I need to organize separately those related with the blog: since I need to reorganize Bohemian Wanderer, of course I need an editorial plan.

This blog works on WordPress and I already have a free plugin to manage the posts’ calendar; I put them on my Google Calendar, also. But this doesn’t seem enough: confusion reigns, I forget to write the posts, I write others first, I jump between topics and I lose the lists of ideas.

There are people who can be completely virtual, but in my case there’s no doubt: to not get confused I need to handwrite, to phisically see the posts on my calendar to manage my editorial plan. So I did search some printables to help me with the contents’ organization and I found CoSchedule, famous WordPress plugin for the management of the editorial plan and social media. On their blog I found the perfect freebie: submitting the mailing ist you can download a pdf composed by three useful templates.

  1. Annual Calendar
  2. Ideas worksheets divided in columns
  3. Monthly Calendar

As suggested in the article that comes along with pdf (and also in the bonus guide you download with them), I printed the templates (obviously I printed 12 of the monthly ones) and I got some post-it:

memol
I had one already in the house, I bought the others at Tiger for one euro each 😉

Then i worked using:

  • The annual calendar for a general planning regarding the interesting dates during the year (in my case, e. g., they’ll be Saint Patrick’s, a year of Bohemian Wanderer, etc.)
  • The Ideas worksheets paiting to every column a blog topic, then writing the ideas for articles on post-it and attaching them in the corrisponding column. This makes very easy to write down ideas without losing them and having always them in a place.
  • The monthly calendar as essential base for my blogging activity: my goal for next months is to go from a random number to at least three posts every week on Bohemian Wanderer. Trying to not overload myself with work, I started to take the article ideas from the Ideas worksheets and to hang them on the monthly calendar. Easy and effective. Thank you CoSchedule!

cosch2lSUNRISE CALENDAR

Sunrise-Calendar-1Now that both my tasks and editorial plan are ok, I just need to group all this in one place. If only I could even see on the same page even my Google Calendars…and also having all this always with me, from desktop or smartphone or tablet…

The solution is Sunrise Calendar, that groups and synchronize all these tools (and even more, e.g. Trello) showing all ours to-do and appointments adorned by a nice and readable graphic.

INSPLAGENDA

insplalIn the middle of this reorganization I met also the beautiful project by Veronica Benini, in art “Spora”, that created “Insplagenda” (Inspiring + Planner + Agenda), a planner in pdf freely downloadable for those who never found the perfect agenda. Unluckily, after the first idea of download and print it, I realized I have a little (to be honest, for me gigantic) problem: since I move often between two countries, I can’t take it with me. I know myself very good and I know what this means: to use it for some time and then give it up. Anyway, Insplagenda isn’t just a daily plan: in the mailing list we receive once we subscribed the newsletter, there are even useful pdf plugins to print and add.

Between these I choose the template for notes, in which I’ll write down all the general ideas and those that I need yet to develope.

I hope this article will be useful to many: for me, at the moment, these are the tools which seem to work. If you have more ideas or tools, don’t esitate to leave a comment below 🙂

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