Welcome creatives to this episode number #005 of the Tech Savvy Creatives Podcast and it is Sunday the 11th of October as I’m recording this. I’m going to talk about some of my favourite tech tools today around Planning and Task Management. I use them in my life as a writer and for my blogging processes and I’m also going to give you a few others that you might want to check out.
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Hey, I'm Kylie Ross, and you are listening to the Tech Savvy Creatives Podcast, where each week I'll be introducing you to ranges of tech tools with a special focus for writers, authors, and bloggers and how you can become a confident Tech Savvy Creative. This first series of the podcast will take you on a journey I hope will give you simple and productive ideas, plus action steps for creating a tech savvy process flow. One that suits you, to allow you to create with ease.
You can find the episode show notes, and much more, at techsavvycreatives.com/podcast.
Now here's the show.
Welcome creatives to this episode number #005 of the Tech Savvy Creatives Podcast and it is Sunday the 11th of October as I'm recording this. I'm going to talk about some of my favourite tech tools today around Planning and Task Management. I use them in my life as a writer and for my blogging processes and I'm also going to give you a few others that you might want to check out.
So just on a personal note, there has been a bit of a delay in my podcast being published and I just wanted to apologise for the delay. If you're a regular listener, it's been a few months actually, since I last published a podcast and the reason is solely down to this fabulous year that we're having, this pandemic.
It's really depressed me, as I'm sure it's done for many, many of you out there. I started to second guess myself and question whether I really had anything of value to talk to you guys about; I started to think what was the point, and I got into some, some places where I thought, well, maybe what was the point of TechTools4Authors and Tech Savvy Creatives? So anyway, I have realised that this is going to be our new normal and shutting myself off from the online world that I enjoy so much isn't really going to be the best thing for me.
So I sat down last week and I've planned out the next 12 podcasts. So we're going to do it, or I'm going to do it, with a strong focus on being confident and tech savvy and getting through your normal day to day as a creative.
I'm aware that a lot of us are looking for other ways to make an income and working from home, and that really needs to be an option for many of us. Utilising the internet and understanding tech can be really scary for those of us who did not grow up with tech. I'm going to tell you a little bit about me to help you understand how I became tech savvy and how I'm now in a position to teach others and let you know it's possible to understand apps and software and how to choose the options that best suit your learning and creative writing style.
Just because someone tells you it's the best doesn't mean it's the best for you.
So I was a kid in the ‘70’s, a teenager in the ‘80’s and so I didn't grow up with tech, even in my twenties, which would have been the 1990s, tech wasn't a big thing. My first mobile phone was one of those old Nokias with the buttons that you press.
Do you remember those? I didn't get that until I was 26 years old. I was a high school dropout. Yup. I dropped out of high school when I was 16 and my biggest plan was to marry my high school sweetheart and have babies, but I always had this urge to make a living and be my own boss and I was based in a small country town.
There weren't a lot of options at that time, so I started to make clothes for people and that was okay, but you know, there's not a lot of demand in a small country town, and most people can do things for themselves. I also had this really big urge to go travelling, but my fiance didn't. So as young love does, we broke up, and I moved to the big smoke and I started working in a bar because I thought this would be a good skill to use when I landed in London, especially for a high school dropout.
However, as life does, the universe takes you on a few turns and your first plan is not always the plan that eventuates. As I've learned many times and as I tried to save that money for my plane ticket to fly to London, I ended up working in hospitality for almost five years. I really didn't know where the time went, but I was having, but I was having fun.
I was in my late teens, and it was awesome. Eventually I got sick of this lifestyle. Serving drinks to drunks every night and not being out and about having a life that I wanted to do, and also realised that I wanted to earn more and have a better lifestyle, then share houses and secondhand clothes.
So I was accepted to the university as a mature age student at the ripe old age of 21 to study accountancy, and this is where the tech comes in. Some of the subjects involved computers. I'd never used a computer before, so this was where it got interesting.
All the students I started with were a few years ahead of me and had been learning computers in high school, so I really had some catching up to do. Know, accounting is all about the numbers and how you add them up, and report on them, at a very basic level, so I had to learn Lotus123 which was a popular spreadsheet software before Microsoft Excel. So do any of you out there listening, remember that?
I don't even think it exists anymore. I've never heard, I haven't heard of it for a few years. So I also need to add here that I didn't have a mobile phone, especially not a smartphone. They just, you know, you had to be rich to have those and, you know, very few people had them. So luckily for me, I found that I really enjoyed tech and learning about different apps and how I could apply them to my studies.
So later. After I'd left Uni and I began my first job, I expanded my training into learning about networks and how to manage them for a small business. Mostly it was an accounting piece of software and Microsoft apps. Like the access database, word and excel. These were the main apps that most small business want, that I was working for anyway, at the time used.
And the main message I'd like you to take away from my story is that if you want to learn, you will!
I really enjoyed learning the tech. So I taught myself how to learn and most apps have a bit of a logic to them. And once you get that logic, you can pretty much teach yourself how to go. I've also learned a few tricks along the way, which I'm going to be sharing in my podcasts with you, but the willingness to want to learn is your first step.
If you want to, you will.
Okay. You'll search out the resources. They'll come to you and you'll be fine. So. Let's pop in nicely now to today's topic, which is on Planning and Task Management Tech Tools that are really useful for Writers and Bloggers.
So the podcasts that are going to follow this one are going to take you further along the writing process journey. The way I create is broken down into these steps:
Planning and Task Management:
Which is the focus of today's podcast. So it's all around brainstorming, plotting and outlining your manuscript and how this may fit into a series if you're a fiction, even a nonfiction writer.
Also, you can plan your blog topics as a blogger. I appreciate not all your writers out there are going to be major bloggers, but you will do some blogging. So, having a strategy for an online course, for an ebook, or for other product launches, you really need to have some kind of an idea to help promote organic traffic, because it's way cheaper than paying for ads all the time and it's also a good way of retaining readers and listeners, if you're a podcaster. So blocking out time in your calendar to work on this and having checklists for each step is really helpful.
My process goes through this and I've got all my little checklists and how I do this.
The next steps in my process, which we're going to dive into in some future podcasts and each of these in order is going to be a podcast, basically.
All right. So let's start with planning for a writer and then we'll discuss planning for a blogger. Both are very similar but the tasks that follow can be quite different. There are different starting points, depending on if you're a plotter or a pantser type of writer.
And I personally started as a pantser just letting the story take me until I realised having a plan is way easier and more productive, especially for a series, and gets the writing done faster when you know what each scene should be about. So let's assume you're interested in plotting and you want to know the tech that you could use to plot.
Planning with Aeon Timeline, Word or Scrivener
My favourite is Aeon timeline because it lets me plot my chapters and scenes as individual events into a timeline. You can add characters and location info to each scene and you can slice and dice the look of your timeline to see where your character is sitting in which scenes so you can get a good pacing analysis on that.
The ability to customise the timeline to suit your type of writing style and particular genre is easy and quick to achieve. Plus there's options to then sync your plotted timeline directly to Scrivener or Ulysses, which are popular writing apps.
You can start writing without the need to re-enter all the details that you just brainstormed and to me, that's a no-brainer because I hate repetitive data entry. If I can avoid that, I will. It's just the hugest time saver.
Of course, you can also brainstorm and outline directly into the software that you use to write your novel. So whether you write fiction or nonfiction, the apps for writing are basically the same, and you just pick which one suits you. So we'll get to these in all the different options of writing apps in more detail in podcast No. 6: Writers and Bloggers Tech Tools - Content Creation, but essentially you have Microsoft word.
I think that's probably the most commonly known one, which is very popular for writers who use that software. If they've come from a day job where they know word and they know that's for document writing. Then there is Scrivener, which is widely known as the most popular writing app for serious writers and authors and in between there are many more.
Which one really depends on you, and how you think and write, there's no best software that you must use. There is really only the best one for your writing style and hopefully, from listening to the podcast and, if you delve further into any of my blog posts and resources, I'm going to help you find what your style is, so that you can make sure that you pick the right apps.
So today we're really focusing on the planning and not the actual writing. So let's step back to the planning aspect and how you can take a lot of notes in various documents. Also known as files, and keep all your characters in one file. You can do your world building in another, and then you can write your novel in another.
I'm kind of talking about word when I'm talking about this because it really lends itself to that style of writing. Scrivener, on the other hand, has different options where you can put character information in one folder, research in another folder, your world building in another, and it's all the one file or as Scrivener calls it a project.
So it's essentially a single file. You've then got all the pieces of the puzzle in there, plus you've got the section to write your novel. So you are not jumping into different files to figure out various pieces of the information. There's also tricks to write the whole series in a particular file in Scrivener as well.
Okay. So let's talk about that. So again, it does depend on what you're looking for, but you can plan in the timeline software or you can plan in the writing app. It just depends how you like to lay things out visually really, but for me, it all gets a bit hard to keep track of my story and the timeline of events if I'm plotting in the writing app.
So I prefer to brainstorm and outline my story in Aeon timeline and I can set my story in the order that I'm going to write it. Or how I'm going to want the readers to read it because my genre is paranormal romance with a bit of a time travel twist in there. So things that are happening hundreds of years ago, need to slot in to the story. That's why a timeline comes in really handy for me. Plus, I can also add tags and keywords into the timeline to help me filter it and sort it different ways so that I can do some analysis on it and say, well, how are my parts going? How's my pacing? if I just want to look at certain types of scenes together, I could say, well, okay, these are all the mystery bits. These are all the romance bits. This is the general story. Throw in a few Easter eggs for the next bit of the series and the next novel.
I can do all of that and I can lay it out really easily. So that's why I prefer that one snd also if I put my blogger hat on I use Aeon timeline for that as well.
I can split my content up between my TechTools4Authors blog, my Tech Savvy Creatives Podcast and I also share some of my blogs on medium and write for medium as well. So it's always, easier if you can kind of split things out, but you need to see it as a bit of a whole picture to see where all your streams are coming from, where you're writing.
It allows me to easily see what my strategy is for the month and make sure that I'm tying in the content to suit and compliment all of the mediums that I'm using and all the mediums that I'm sharing in. This makes it super easy for a content creation calendar and allows me to make notes within each topic on the timeline, so I know what I was thinking when I planned it. It's especially useful if there's a space of a few weeks before I actually find the time to write it, which often happens, if you're getting your planning happening well.
So I use Scrivener to write my blog posts and podcasts because I can easily use dragon dictate to speak my thoughts and get the words written that much faster, not all apps you can dictate into that's just something to think about as well.
So how do you currently do your planning? I'm very curious to know what you, what you like to do. Are you a Post-it note type of planner, or do you like to write in a notebook or multiple notebooks? Been there done that. That was me quite a few years ago.
I guess, you stay with what you're comfortable with and what you first learnt to use. Early on in your writing or blogging career, for us more mature people, we didn't have the option of tech. When we first started to learn how to take notes, record our thoughts or tasks and to-do's, our only option was paper. Today, though, there are so many choices on how to take notes, and I really like all the automation that tech gives us, but sometimes I just like to write with a pen on paper slowly, expand an idea or brainstorm a new storyline.
Planning with a Digital Planner
Now who here listening has heard about digital planners, anybody? I was hugely skeptical at first as to how I could use an iPad tablet to write on that would take the place of a writing pad, but over my career, the last 20 plus years, I've been an accountant and an IT consultant and I've travelled quite extensively for that career.
Carrying a lot of stuff when you're travelling, gets you over the carry on limit very, very quickly. I've needed to have training manuals, take notes in meetings, have my laptop. I want to read a book when I'm on the plane or in the airport. So, if I can minimize and reduce the amount of items that I'm carrying and the weight - I was all for it.
So I really went all in and worked out how I could do this. I looked at the digital side of taking notes and what especially drew me to the iPad first was the fact that I could use it to read books, and that eliminated one or two books from my carry on right there.
Then I started exploring the note taking side of the iPad and in the early days of this, for me, say around six, seven years ago, the apps and the stylists working together to mimic actual handwriting weren't great, but they've come a really long way since then and my preferred option right now.
NoteShelf 2, Goodnotes, Notability
One that I've been using for the last three or four years is your iPad Pro and the Apple pencil. So those two combined just make the writing experience, just like I'm writing on paper. Okay, it doesn't have the drag that the paper does, but I'm okay with that. I like my nice smooth finish and the writing that appears on the iPad matches the pencil because stylists of years ago, there was a delay of a few seconds, or the writing would be a little spot up from where the pencil, the stylist, actually was. It was very distracting. So once I got the right hardware, I needed to find the right software. I've looked at quite a few of them, played around with a few and one that I've had for quite a few years now, and I've stayed with is NoteShelf 2.
I just like the way that it works for me. Now each person is going to have their own little way of doing it. GoodNotes is another really good note taking app and so is Notability and there's a few of them out there. Those are the sort of the more popular ones that I'm aware of, but NoteShelf 2 is the one that I like to use.
You can also write in Evernote and OneNote as well. I just find the experience has a little bit of a time lag in it. I don't find it quite right, as nice and smooth as NoteShelf. So that's why I liked to move away from the pen and paper. I can still have my writing style, a lot less to carry around, less that I need to find, and if I need to search for something in my notebook, it's right there on my iPad. So I'm not going to the shelf or have rocked up at a customer, back in my consulting days, and I don't have the manual or the notebook that I need for some obscure reference that they've said, or some other customer recommends this and you go, Oh yes, I remember that and it's in some other notebook. So I don't have that hassle anymore. Everything I have is in the one device.
Did you also know that with training manuals, if you're learning anything, if anyone provides you with a PDF, you can put it on your iPad in one of your note writing apps and you can then annotate over it, you can highlight it, scribble on it and make notes. I find that invaluable because what's the point of having a document that you have to then print out and scribble on.
You don't have to do that. You can put them on your iPad and right over it. Perfect. There's also other options, and you can get pre-formatted digital planners for your day-to-day calendar items as well, and I use these sometimes, but mostly if I'm at my desk, I'll update my calendar directly on my device.
Digital Planners though, they allow you to take meeting notes or have ideas pages for you to write on. Maybe if you're interviewing someone for an upcoming blog article or a podcast, or during your day job while you're writing as your side hustle. You can have your meetings handwriting on a tablet is way easier, and I find more polite than staring at your laptop and typing notes because when you're writing, you can keep more eye contact with the person. Or people that you're in the room with rather than the more informal way of not making eye contact with them and taking notes on a laptop. I don't know about you, but I've been in larger meetings with some attendees over the years where actually, I don't think everyone was actually in that meeting, paying attention. I think some of them were surfing the net and seeing what that would get up to on the weekend. So anyway, of course, do what suits you.
I like to have a content creation calendar on my iPad, where I can brainstorm notes over my morning coffee while sitting on my back balcony. It's more relaxing than having my laptop there with me as I'm on it, most of the day, sometimes I just like to have a break.
Musing about upcoming tech tips, ideas and blog posts can be actioned on my digital planner. I actually couldn't find exactly what I wanted to suit me, so I learnt how to create my own. If you're interested, you can check out the shop over on techsavvycreatives.com/shop, where you can watch a video on how I use the Content Creation Calendar on my iPad and if you like it, you can download it for Australian $7.95, which if you're in the US that's half that I think these days, exchange rates not great, but there's a video explainer on how to use it, how to put it on your device.
I personally use it with NoteShelf 2, but any note taking app that allows for PDF annotation will work, and they all pretty much seem too. So it's just a bit of an idea, covering off the planning side of being a writer and a blogger, just a couple of little tips and tricks in there, and some apps that you can could use.
So if we move on to the task management side, and the way that we action those planned items that we now have. So we've planned out what we're working on and if we go with a writing example we’re writing a novel and it could be a part of a series, now initially we're going to be putting blocks of time aside to write the novel and depending on the speed that you write that could take months. But around the writing, you can have other things that you need to do, like picking the kids up, meeting up with friends, car service appointments, et cetera. You also are going to have a timeline of when you would like to get the book written, at least the first draft, what's your deadline.
Then the tasks are going to move into editing and proofing, plus other activities that you may or may not outsource. To actually have an editor look at it, or a proofreader, book cover creation, formatting the final version for publishing. Then you need to think about if you're self publishing, what your book launch is going to look like.
Are you going to run ads? Will you have a social media strategy? There are a lot of items involved in getting there and most need to be thought through prior to when you need them to get all the pieces in there, ducks in a row, so to speak. So how do you currently keep track of all these items? For me, I like to utilise the same software that I use for my planning and that is Aeon timeline.
I can create a timeline for my novel, but I can also create a timeline for the launching of that book and what I'm going to need for teasers for the social media, or will I be creating a book trailer? Where do I get my images from? Who is creating the book cover? When will they have it ready for me? What do I need to give them?
All these things that you need to think about before you actually launch. So keeping a plan to include them and making sure that you're ahead of the game and not racing around after the fact can be really helpful to get your book out there faster. Of course, you don't need a timeline software to do this.
If you're writing on a device, then you will most likely have calendar software that's pre-installed on your device. This could be your Mac calendar if you're using a Mac or on a Windows based device, you might be using Outlook, which has a calendar, email and a task list all in one. So if you're using some kind of a browser based email, like GMail, for example, that will also provide a calendar and reminders options.
I highly recommend checking out what is included on your device that doesn't include any extra monthly subscription fees and then if that doesn't suit, you look elsewhere, but most of the time you've got everything that you need ready to go. You don't need to go and buy extra software or download something different.
But if you have multiple projects and email accounts like me. I have TechTools4Authors, Tech Savvy Creatives, have the podcast, have the blog, write for medium and I'm also writing for myself to hopefully be a nice paranormal romance writer. So putting all of that together, I needed something a little bit more.
So I do plan with Aeon timeline. Now the thing with Aeon timeline is it is a one-off fee. It's not a monthly subscription type of option. You can have it on a Mac or a PC, and it is also is made for iOS. So for iPad devices. And last time I looked, which was only a few weeks ago, it's it was roughly $65 Australian dollars.
So it's not a big ticket software app. And once you've bought it you've bought it and you get all the updates included in that. So, it is pretty cool to do that. Now the licenses are separate for the iOS device, but I'm pretty sure that it's, one software licence for both the Mac and/or Windows, as long as you're using it once at at time you can have it on to two different devices.
I just find that great for utilising for fiction, for nonfiction, for book launches, content creation, planning, and pretty much any type of timeline planning that you can think of. If you don't need to track costs and milestones and multiple different people on a project you don't need project software to manage it all.
And if you've got all of this stuff happening, it can get a bit messy and you can get a bit over over-awed if you're putting all of these different entities, and timelines into, into some of the reminder software. So I prefer to break it down into Aeon timeline. I've set my timelines up customised to me.
So that works really well for me and something for you to think about. If you getting multiple entities and you want to look for something a bit more, it's a good thing. Good value option.
In addition to all these options that I mentioned, you could also look at Trello, if you haven't heard of that they offer what they call boards and on each board, you could have multiple lists, card lists, and inside each list, you have cards and inside the card you have tasks, you can also add checklists. Your card is your action item, it's your task and you can have different boards that say, To Do, In Progress, or Complete, and you just move the cards through the different statuses.
For those, who are listening, that have more of an IT background. it's a Kanban essentially, so you're just moving it through the different stages and that's how you can mark off what status it's at. So that's another option that you might want to look at. It's pretty.
Another one that I use is Ayoa and it is pretty cool. It's really visually nice to look at. It has mind maps, task lists, Gantt charts, and it's kind of like the Trello board all rolled into one as well. You can move your items around and it changes the status of them without having to go in all these extra clicks. So I've been using it for the last year. it does have a monthly subscription fee though.
If that's not something that suits you, there is a free option, but you don't get a lot of cards or a lot of, events in there or a lot of boards until you have to go the paying option. But I definitely recommend checking it out on the free option for sure because it's visually really pretty and it has an app for it as well on any tablet.
Another one I've just started to trial is notion and it's free for personal use and with many my entities here, or my personas, it's just me. So that's personal use. It doesn't have the visual appeal of Ayoa and it doesn't have the mind mapping, but it has really customisable features and once I got my head around what I wanted to do with it, I'm actually pretty happy with it at the moment and it's free. So that's a good value-add option.
So have a look at those.
Okay. I've thrown a lot at you today. That's our podcast for today, but I really hope you found something of value from the topics that I've discussed and just to go over the main points that I covered, my favourite planning and task management, tech tools, plus a few others for you to consider is what we talked about.
Now I know we haven't deep dived into all the options you can look into, but there are some great starting points and if there is a scenario you want to make some changes or improvements in, you've got some places to start.
Also, never forget if you want to learn, you will.
Getting up to speed with tech, if you didn't grow up with an iPad can be really daunting. It's not second nature to grab a device like it is for the young ‘uns, but this is the way the world is turning and if you do choose to get on board and make your writing and blogging life that little bit easier go for it. Otherwise, you're going to ignore it and keep going with Post-Its and pen and paper it's totally up to you.
It's really a personal choice but what I would like to add though, is if you are writing and/or blogging in the hopes of this becoming a new source of income, then you will need to keep up with tech. You will need to embrace it and once you do, you will really benefit from it. So if you remember nothing else about my podcast today, just remember if you want to learn, you will!
Okay. Question for you now, what Tech Tools are inside your Writer's Toolkit or your Bloggers Toolkit. Do you have a toolkit? If you have a few minutes, I'd love for you to share in the comments over at techsavvycreatives.com/podcast for this podcast number 005 and just let me know what you use.
I'd love to hear what you're interested in. If you've got any questions, I'm also interested to know, how do you feel about the stages that you go through from your idea to publish? Whether that be writing a book or blogging, do the current apps that you use work for you or are you finding it frustrating and confusing?
Drop me a comment. Let me know.
If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating and a review on where you listen and it would be really awesome if you could also take a moment to screenshot and share this episode out to your social, if you do tag me in and I'll be sure to reply and share your comments and takeaways from the episode as well, win-win for both of us.
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Thanks for listening today and don't forget if you want to delve further into anything discussed on this episode check out the show notes over on techsavvycreatives.com/podcasts with an S on the end and I look forward to you tuning in next week.
Take care, and I hope you and yours have a safe and creative week
RESOURCES & LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS VIDEO:
Tech Savvy Creative Podcast
TechTools4Authors Online Courses
Aeon Timeline: https://www.aeontimeline.com/
Digital Planners: https://www.techsavvycreatives.com/shop
Noteshelf 2: http://www.noteshelf.net/
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