If you spend longer than five minutes near me, you’re probably going to hear me say, “Let’s make a list.” It drives my free-spirited friends mad. My desire to plot and plan doesn’t extend to my creative projects, as I find I tend to over plan and suck the marrow from them before they even get started. So how do I find a balance? How do I feed my need to plan and not stifle the flow of random dot connection that makes an idea breathe?

Honestly, it took a lot of trial and error, and I don’t have it all figured out. It took being honest with myself – I’m never going to be productive on a day I wake up at 6 am, ever – and a willingness to change my plans rather than just set them on fire and run away screaming. I have tried many (many) productivity apps, list-making apps, etc. It was actually a procrastination/perfectionism problem there for a while. At some point this year, I rediscovered WorkFlowy. I’d used it before, but this time it clicked for me. I’m able to quickly hash out my brain clutter when I need to do a brain-dump, but the messy scribble of tasks, ideas and worries are easily managed. I can come back to an item and add a sub item with a research link or a further thought.

Below is a screenshot of my 2017 Goal list in Workflowy, to give you a glimpse of how I use it. As you can see, I don’t have a major writing goal set, because I can’t think of one that’s appropriately stretching and not “write x amount of words, spend x amount of time on project etc.” (Project Etc should be a code name for something, or a fictional band. Maybe one of my characters could really love Project Etc.)