Daily Tao ☯ 6.28.17

After the writer’s death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.
— Day One Inspirations

Interesting creative day today. Reworked a scene that’s been bothering me in the manuscript, then dealt with a lingering annoyance. I’ve had a To Do on my Wunderlist for a few months called “Create a mental inventory.” I don’t know why lunch today became the moment to tackle this, but tackle it I did. You see, I’ve been offloading ideas as they happen into my Day One journal, but I’d neglected to mark any of them in a specific (read searchable) way. Well, now they are. Thirteen solid, doable, interesting story ideas, all coded and tagged so I can pull them up at a moment’s notice. And offloaded, and backed up, and printed out.

Maybe it was the malware attack that launched yesterday, maybe it was some weird premonition that my computer might freak out, but I knew I needed to do this immediately. I feel much, much better now. (Hello, OCD.)

I used to write these ideas down in a notebook, but with the advent of Day One, which syncs across all my devices, being able to access this anywhere is too cool, and so it became my go to for story creation. 

I blog in it, too. I actually have entries dating back to 2004. You know what that first post is? My first major rejection, by a leading NY editor, on the book that 12 years later was published as FIELD OF GRAVES. (Awww… admittedly, poor kid J.T. was pretty well crushed that day.) 

It’s kind of nice to be able to look back and see this, and know that things were soon to change. It took another year, but things did pick up. And here we are now, a career underway, more ideas than I have time to write. Pretty cool.

I have to admit, though, when I opened Day One to do today’s blog, I was a bit shocked to see the weird quote at the beginning of the blog. It’s true, absolutely. These daily entires,my daily devotions, whether I share them online or keep them private, really are a love letter, left behind. 

On that note, sweet dreams — and be sure to come by the blog tomorrow for some fun news!





Author Assistant 101: The Best Tool I Use to Collaborate with My Author

Hi, guys! Amy here, dreaming of all the tacos I'll be eating tomorrow on Cinco de Mayo. 🌮

Like I’ve said before, I spend most of my days in the elastic waistband heaven of yoga pants.

It’s a great time to be alive, folks.

As an author assistant (or a “virtual assistant” as some might say), I can work remotely as long as I have a Wi-Fi/4G connection. My office has been a coffee shop, countless waiting rooms, lake shores, mountain tops, and even the beautiful parking lot of a 7-Eleven (glamorous is the life I lead). 

“But, Amy,” you ask, “how do you and J.T. stay on the same page if you’re working in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven and she’s (hopefully) not?”

Fair question, dear reader. The simple answer is: the Internet is a magical thing. 

The long answer? 

During our tenure, J.T. and I have tried several organization tools and project management systems, programs of all sizes and stripes. Some were bare bones, some super robust. There's only one we still use.

Look at kate spencer! She's organized on all of her platforms and winning at life. 

Look at kate spencer! She's organized on all of her platforms and winning at life. 

I ❤️ you, Wunderlist.

Wunderlist is a cloud-based task manager that keeps our entire business running. Thankfully, it's not too robust—we’re not spending all our time organizing tasks without doing them (a problem with other platforms we’ve used).

So why do J.T. and I use Wunderlist? A few reasons:

1. Wunderlist gives a bird’s-eye view of every single project. At a glance, we can see each of our weekly and monthly to-do’s, look at each project’s workflow, or refer to our database of easy-to-access team information.

2. It updates in real time. When J.T. or I add to the list, Wunderlist will send a notification to the other user so everybody stays on the same page.

3. It doesn’t give us data fatigue. Wunderlist has three levels of organization, which mirrors our workflow setup: Project —> Tasks —> Sub-tasks. After two years of working together, we’ve discovered three levels of organization is perfect for us. Anything more, and we lose things.

This is how J.T. and I use Wunderlist as Author and Author Assistant.

We divide our business like so:

1. Weekly tasks (for each of us)

2. Monthly tasks (for each of us)

3. Reminders/Database (good for information to keep handy) 

4. Staff Meeting Agenda

5. Project To-Do’s and Workflows

As we go through our weeks, J.T. and I will dump items that aren’t time-sensitive and would be easier to discuss in person at our next Staff Meeting. During our Staff Meeting, J.T. and I go through the agenda we’ve curated in Wunderlist. As we talk through each bullet, we can drag the item to the appropriate person’s task list. After we plow through our agenda, we go through each task list and workflow, ensuring we’re on track to reach our deadlines.

Behold, our organizational glory! This is one of our task lists. See? Robust, but not overwhelming. (and can you tell we love emojis? ❤️ 🙌 🌈 )

Behold, our organizational glory! This is one of our task lists. See? Robust, but not overwhelming.
(and can you tell we love emojis? ❤️ 🙌 🌈 )

Since we put our meeting agenda in Wunderlist, fewer things slip through the cracks. If one of us is traveling and we have to meet via FaceTime, the format of our meetings is the same. And if either of us moves to a villa in Europe (a girl can dream 🏰), J.T. and I can still conduct business the same way. Again I say: the Internet is magic.

Here are a few of my favorite Wunderlist features (I sound like a used car salesman, but I don’t care—this is how much I love this thing):

1. The notifications I mentioned earlier—you can receive an alert when someone else has added or changed an item

2. Star your high-priority items so they don’t get lost in the shuffle

3. See your starred tasks and projects due today or this week—all at once.

Bottom line, folks—Wunderlist is flexible, provides a birds-eye or granular view of your business, whichever you need. J.T. and I plan to keep this in our arsenal forever and ever.

Do you use Wunderlist? Which organizational tools are your favorites? Which ones should we try? Tell us in the comments!