Being the Definitive Collection of Works by Allison Holt


(Much like the author)

From Anarchy To Organization

Posted in on April 29, 2005

While I certainly don’t consider myself an anarchist–it’s entirely possible that I’m the least anarchic person I know–I found this Flash presentation (via BoingBoing) to have a number of good ideas I can apply to my life.

Jim Munroe knows that being liberated from your day job, whether by your choice or not, can offer an excellent opportunity to work for yourself on projects meaningful to you. But the problem for most people, or at least most people used to the regular 9-to-5 world, is that having no structure in which to work makes work itself difficult. When left to our own devices, we tend to lack direction and have difficult actually accomplishing anything without externally-mandated goals and deadlines. (And yes, you can read every instance of “we” in the last sentence as “I.”) The secret to working for yourself and actually getting stuff done? Organization.

I want to be a full-time writer, but that’s been largely a vague desire to this point–I know it’s something I want to do, but I haven’t really figured out how I want to get to that point. I’ve made some baby steps recently–this blog being one, actually –but those moves won’t get me anywhere without solid organization and planning. Three of the tricks Jim mentions in his presentation seem like they’d be particularly helpful to me:

  1. Write down everything. If you write it down, then you don't have to spend processing cycles trying to remember it or worrying that you forgot something important.
  2. Break bigger, scarier tasks down into smaller, friendlier tasks. This one's a big one. I tend to want to jump right into enormous tasks without truly being prepared for them. I want to write a novel, for instance, but don't want to do any of the necessary prep work for it. Thinking about what needs to be done, writing down each of those tasks and breaking those down necessary as further into small, manageable tasks will make the entire project seem much more doable.
  3. Attach your self-imposed deadlines to coincide with external deadlines. I know that I'm a deadline-oriented person, but the deadlines I create for myself tend to be pretty meaningless and difficult to enforce. If I give myself a deadline that's connected to something I want to do--for instance, I know that John Scalzi's accepting submissions for the science fiction anthology he's editing in October--then that gives me something meaningful to shoot for.

I’m going to try to start putting these ideas into effect and see if I can start making progress on the various projects rattling around inside my head. Too much to do and not as much time as I might like means I need to make the best of use I can of what time I have.

(Whaddayamean playing Knights of the Old Repbulic on my Xbox isn’t making productive use of my time?)

Allison Holt spends her days wrestling with code and her nights wrestling with her amazing wife, three fantastic children and her big goofy rescue dog. You can find her at any of the social media links below, or you can email her at

All wrestling referred to in the previous paragraph is metaphorical.