Seeing a package in my mailbox gets my heart racing. Yipee! Another book to add to my collection of great books sent to me by authors, publicists, publishers, blogger friends, Goodreads win and so forth. (We bloggers are very resourceful when it comes to getting free books! Heh heh!) But this same enthusiasm for wanting to read almost every book whose cover has us salivating is also our downfall.
Too many books begin to pile up, deadlines for reviews start to close in on us, work is hectic, the kids need our attention, and our house looks like the tornado from The Wizard of Oz blew through it. How do we get it all done without losing it?
First, we take a deep breath and tell ourselves it can be done. With the right mind frame, the right tools and a few organizational tips. Here's what is helping me keep sane as a book blogger, tour coordinator, and full-time working mom:
1. Set specific goals for accepting books.
Let's face it, you can't accept every book offered to you. Make it a goal to accept only books that you know you will have time to read. Keep a working calendar handy so that you can track what is going on in your working life every month. You're organizing a major event in May, along with planning for your summer vacation and helping the kids with their end-of-year school projects? Adjust your review schedule and think about accepting fewer books for that month. Calculate how many books you can realistically read in a month and set a goal for which ones you will accept--will it be books to complete your challenges, books from your own shelf or books from a specific publisher or tour company?
2. Create a spreadsheet.
This is easier to do than you may think. I use Google spreadsheets and I love it. No prior experience required. Keep a list of books you are reviewing and note the date you received it, the date you are to post the review, name of publisher, publicist or author who sent it to you, the tour company, if it includes a giveaway, author interview or guest post, and the sites you crosspost to.
3. Categorize your Lists
I keep several lists by genre because I'm an eclectic reader. I have a spreadsheet for children's books, middle-grade, YA and adult. I also have one just for audiobooks. It's a good idea if you host giveaways to have a spreadsheet to track which books you're giving away, start and end dates, winner info and when you sent info to publisher. It doesn't matter how you categorize your lists, just make sure it helps you keep track of what you're reading. You might begin to see a trend, which is fun.
4. Have a Family Calendar
Every year at Costco I buy the oversized More Time Moms Family Organizer which I thumbtack to my kitchen bulletin board. On it I keep track of: my published posts for all my three blogs, doctor and dentist appointments, family events, music lessons, anniversaries, book launches, dance lessons, sports, ped days, school activities, etc. Yup, it all fits in there! And with cute stickers too. With everything on my mind, this calendar keeps me sane because I can see all I have to do at a glance.
5. Make Use of Printables for Home Management and Blogging
I just discovered Life Your Way that has free downloadable printables. I'm a list kind of gal and when organizing lists are already made out for me, and I only have to check things off, that saves me time and energy.
6. Take the time to regroup once a week
On Sundays, I try to unplug and look at the week ahead of me and what I need to do. I prepare myself mentally. I make an action plan and I prioritize things that are essential to do that week. I try to plan my meals too. Our mind is a powerful tool. When you can see the big picture and are prepared for it, it's less overwhelming. And things actually get done!
7. Get enough sleep, limit junk food and exercise!
I know, this one seems like a no-brainer but they are the first things to go when we are overwhelmed and pressed for time. Getting to bed one hour earlier, choosing nuts and yogourt over a danish and taking the stairs instead of the elevator do make a difference. They do, I promise you, they do. :-)
Laura Fabiani is an author and book blogger who shares her love of books on Library of Clean Reads. She is also owner of iRead Book Tours and Italy Book Tours. Fabiani offers and coordinates virtual book tour services for authors and publishers.