July 18, 2014

Behind the Scenes: On Organization

This July, I'm kicking off a brand new Friday mini-series called Behind the Scenes. I've only been blogging for 3 (!!!) years, but I figured it might be fun to share a little bit with readers how I do things around here. This is, of course, in no way meant to be a post telling you the right or wrong way to do stuff! It's simply an attempt to share the blogging process that works best for me. 

Previously, I talked about how I write blog posts and how I filmed + edited vlogs.
Today, we'll be taking a look at how I stay organized!

Now, I'm going to have to start by telling you guys that I'm a naturally neat person. I have a penchant for making sure things are in their proper place, and I love making sure to stay on top of my schedule. While I do deviate every so often, this is generally just how my mind works and, I've found, the best process for me.

Also, this post was inspired by an email I wrote to Betty a while back! Certain things have changed, but for the most part, the entire process I shared with her is the the same.

Organizing My Review Books

(1) On Google Drive, I have a digital file with all my review books/ARCs listed.
I've been making good use of an Excel sheet that I have on Google Drive to keep track of my ARCs & review books. (If you're looking for a great guide on how to do this, Debby shared her amazing how-to.) It's great to have it online because it means I can make changes on it at work, and on my phone (if I really have to)!

I do include a fair amount of detail: 
  • title
  • author
  • publication date
  • whether or not it's a Friends with ARCs read
  • series (series title + number)
  • pages
  • format (hardcover, paperback, ebook, ARC, e-galley)
  • classification (young adult, adult, middle grade)
  • genre (fantasy, contemporary, non-fiction, etc.)
  • method (how I acquired the book)
I also highlighted each month's (including the ones past pub date) reads with a different color, just so I know how many books I've got ahead of me for review in any given month. 

Please note that I do not include the books I buy for myself on this spreadsheet! They're usually listed on a separate sheet, but more often than not, I pick those up whenever I have a whim to do so (which happens a lot, and often has me deviating from the books I plan to read).

(2) On Goodreads, I have a shelf called "for review".
I also have a shelf on Goodreads dedicated solely to the books I receive for review. If I'm on the go, this is actually the fastest way for me to know which books I've got for review and can pick from for my next (review) read. It's usually organized by title (and not by pub date), so I actually end up starting books that are publishing way later sometimes.

(3) My physical review books are organized in stacks.
Right now, I do have shelves, but they happen to be kind of filled with books I've loved and acquired. So I generally keep ARCs off the shelves (with a few exceptions!), and make stacks of them in my room. At present, there are three stacks of books:
  • Finished review copies (and some finished copies I bought on my own)
  • ARCs, stack 1
  • ARCs, stack 2
I do have a lot of e-galleys for review, but for the physical ones, it helps to have them organized this way. I stack them by date, with the soonest on top and the later ones on the bottom. This way, when I pull a novel off there, I have a general idea of its publication date.

Organizing My Blog

(1) I use a planner.
I'm fast gaining a preference for real, tangible, handwritten things (though I love the convenience of my iPhone too). This has made itself very clear in my preference for carrying around pens and my planner, where I write down every single post that I need to write or have already written & scheduled.

A few things you should know:
  • I color-coordinate. Blue is for reviews, pink is for personal posts, orange is for blog features, purple is for blog tours or blog events. I underline & place a green check mark once I've finished a post and it's scheduled.
  • I figure out my review schedule every two weeks or so. I don't necessarily update the planner every time I finish a novel. I instead update when I can, by checking my "write a review" shelf on Goodreads and my digital calendar, then adding it into the planner accordingly.
  • I write out my features two months or so in advance. Features, on the other hand, are often scheduled far ahead so I know which days they're going to cover.
This is actually the best way for me to be able to coordinate with other people when I'm planning blog events (which is a future post!), as it's easy to find dates and to see which ones are free. I also write in book events I plan to attend in here when I remember to! My planner also has blank pages at the back, where I write all sorts of notes: fun posts I've come up with, plans for blog collaborations, random thoughts. It's definitely ideal!

(2) I still have a digital calendar though.

To accompany my handwritten (and preferred) method of scheduling these days, I keep up with a digital calendar too. I used to use iCalendar, but then Rachel introduced me to Sunrise, and I fell in love with that. It's perfect too, because I can coordinate on it using my phone, iPad & Macbook.

The way my digital calendar works is actually a bit simpler than my handwritten schedule, but also very similar.
  • I still color-coordinate. But there are only three colors here: drafted posts (red), scheduled posts (purple) and posts to write (blue). It makes things simpler to figure out at a glance on-screen.
  • I update this straight away with my review schedule. Unlike the paper planner, every time I finish a novel, I update this calendar right away. I think, in my mind, it's because it's easier to move an entry from one date to another digitally (and not so easily on a written schedule)! It becomes my basis for the written one.
  • I write out my features two months or so in advance. And this, obviously, is no different from what I do with it on paper.
The one other advantage my digital calendar has over my written one is that it's easy for me to include the book events I'm scheduled to attend, especially when my friends send me invites via email. 

(3) I make to-do lists.

Aside from the schedules, I make a separate to do list every week of specific tasks that need to be accomplished. This can often end up being very detailed, because I like the fact that I can cross lots of things off as soon as I finish them. 

And there you have it, the ways I stay organized when it comes to reading and blogging! I know it sounds like staying organized requires a ton of work, but bear in mind, this is just what works for me. (And if it works for you as well, that's awesome!) What about you? What's YOUR organization look like? Feel free to tell me in the comments below!

Hope you enjoyed taking a peek "behind the scenes"!
Come back next week to see how I handle commenting & social media!


  1. I always love to see other bloggers organisation and we do similar things. Instead of Google Drive I just use Excel and I include about the same information as you. I also use Goodreads, because that is still my number 1 to-go website when it comes to organizing books. I love making to-do lists, but I don't use a planner since I don't use a schedule for my blog posts. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this. I do a similar spreadsheet (didn't think about including page count, URGH, I'll definitely start that next year), but I love seeing everyone else's AND to see your other methods. Color coordinating, FTW. Love it, Alexa!

  3. Ohhhh, Google Drive! So smart! I use an Excel sheet, too, but sometimes I wish I could see it from my phone when I'm out, and that's an awesome idea. ;) Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow you do a lot! I don't have as many for review books as you, so what I usually do is order them by publication date using Google Keep. When I'm done writing a post on blogger, it goes on Google Calendar which syncs up with every device I'm on, and also my co-blogger's. All our reviews/discussions/spotlights are done weeks in advance while memes are done at most a few days before.

    I'm very impressed with your spreadsheet though. I love the idea of colour coordinating everything. :)

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  5. I use a Google Drive spreadsheet for my ARCs as well! I didn't used to until recently, but now that I'm doing it, I love having that system.

    I also use Google Calender to schedule my blog. I find it easier to do it online vs. a handwritten planner (or both, like you haha), because I tend to have to move things around a lot.

    I love reading about how different people handle organization...great post :)

  6. Alexa, I love this! I am seriously terrible at organizing (despite my efforts at it). Like you, I have a spread sheet for my review books too, as well as a planner for blog posts. I usually forget to update them though, haha. Honestly, I am bad at following things through. I end up not reading ARCs according to priority, or forgetting to write posts sometimes. I definitely wish I could stay as organized as you but I think procrastinating is too deeply rooted in me lol! Thanks for sharing your organization methods with us! :D

  7. Omg Alexa this post is perfect. I've been trying to get organised with my ARCs for ages but I don't stick to it. I do use a few methods here but all of them combined seem really good. I'm gonna start using an Excel spreadsheet on top of my planner now :D I've already got a shelf for just ARCs and a GR shelf too - I'm sort of at a loss at what to do with unsolicited copies though. For a while I was using Trello to try to keep track of review copies but I gave up. Great tips thank you so much!

  8. I love this mini-series!! I haven't seen one like this yet. Such a good idea. Keep up the good work Alexa!!

  9. Wow, this is amazing! I don't get nearly as many ARCs as you do, so I don't have to be quite as organized with my review books at this point, but if it ever gets overwhelming I'll probably end up doing to same. I'm beyond OCD with my GR - all my shelves are very organized and specific; it'd drive me crazy otherwise!

  10. I like to think that I'm super organized...and then I find posts like this and I realize that I'm not organized at all. I love looking at how you blog so well and I think I'm going to try and do this (with my own twists of course; what works for one person might not work for someone else) with my own TBR.

  11. Ok, I definitely need to take these things on because I feel so all over the place right now. Thanks so much! :)


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