I'm in Love with FRED

I'm in Love with FRED

Shaunta Grimes doesn’t know me. We’ve never met, though we do belong to the same online writing groups.

But she’s had an enormous influence on my life. See, she introduced me to my new writing partner, FRED, and…well…don’t tell my husband, but I’m in love.

 
Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

 

My Life, Pre-FRED

When I was a full-time employee, I was steadfastly reliable. Dates, reminders, deadlines, meetings — nothing slipped past me. For over 25 years I maintained a trustworthy persona thanks to my fool-proof scheduling system.

But the moment I transitioned from employee to freelancer, my organizational abilities vanished. None of my old methods worked. I couldn’t figure out how to meet self-imposed writing deadlines, juggle writing-related tasks, and manage my personal and work calendars, all while accomplishing long-term professional goals.

It led to a dark period of experimentation. I’ll admit it: I had flings with numerous scheduling techniques. I always hoped for a long-term relationship, but nothing ever seemed to stick.

My Exes

First there was good ol’ Gmail. All reminders went into G’s calendar. I even color-coded them to spice things up — Pink for personal, Blue for work, Red for meetings, Purple for my kid, Green for my husband.

But in my current role I constantly have a million balls in the air, and Gmail became cluttered. It got so bad it looked as though someone had puked Skittles all over my screen. The blocks of reminders stacked on top of one another overwhelmed me, and I froze. I didn’t know where to begin, so I didn’t begin at all. Needless to say, G and I called it quits.

Soon after, a freelancing friend introduced me to Hourly Paper Scheduler (HPS). It’s changed my life, she told me. I’m so much more productive now.

I decided to give HPS a try. I hooked up with a beautiful, oversized daily planner, complete with inspirational quotes to help me along on my journey. Each page provided a daily overview, broken down by the hour, as well as a space for notes and gratitude reminders. HPS was really sweet.

Sadly, our relationship lasted only four days. I couldn’t deal with the hourly layout. I felt pressured to fill every available minute with work and by the evening I was overcome with guilt for not adhering to the rigid, unrealistic schedule I’d set for myself. I went to bed each night feeling like a failing employee who deserved to be demoted.

Following my time with HPS, I engaged in a brief dalliance with Sticky Note Reminders All Over My Desk, but it just resulted in a colossal, paper cut-inducing mess.

Phone Scheduler App and I gave it a whirl, but every time it pinged me with a reminder, I found myself picking up my device and scrolling through Twitter instead.

It was a rough time. For months I floundered from system to system, always feeling empty when I broke it off.

Would I ever enter into a meaningful writing relationship? Could anything help me stay on top of my lengthy to-do list, maintain my crazy schedule, and hold me accountable?

 
Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

 

Enter FRED

One day while avoiding work (something I did often in my Pre-FRED days) I was scrolling through Medium when I came up a piece by Shaunta Grimes.

 
 

It was there that Shaunta introduced me to FRED (or, the Folder for Reaching the End of Your Draft).

“[FRED] keeps me on track, gives me a little boost everyday, and is just an awesome accountability partner that lives in a manila folder on my desk.” 
— Shaunta Grimes

Huh. So, no bells and whistles? No guilt? No mess?

I was intrigued.

The cool thing about Shaunta? She’s willing to share. She’s not keeping FRED all to herself. And since I was already a subscriber to her email list, I could download FRED for free.

I didn’t think it would last. Lord knows I’ve been around the scheduling block a few times, always without success. But hey, you never know if you’ll like it until you try it, amiright?

OMG…I Like It

Since we met, FRED has been enormously helpful.

We have an incredible relationship. At the start of each month, I tell FRED my overall, #1 writing goal for the next four weeks and the steps I’ll take to get there. Then I break those steps down into smaller daily tasks. Some days are for pitching, some for writing, some for social media/admin work, and some are a mix of the three.

FRED encourages me to take time every evening to jot down a few notes about that day’s accomplishments. So, when I have pangs of doubt about my abilities, FRED tells me, You did so much this month. Give yourself a treat. You deserve it!

See? FRED’s the best.

The bonus: Once I’ve met my daily goal, I slap a shiny gold star on FRED. I love to see him get all sparkly. (Don’t judge. It’s our thing.)

I’ve only been with FRED now for maybe six weeks, but it’s been such a fulfilling relationship I think we’ll be together for the long haul.

Since we met, I don’t feel as overwhelmed. I know my daily goals are small enough to be doable, but large enough to keep me on track for long-term success.

So, thanks Shaunta. I’ll always appreciate you for bringing FRED into my life.

A version of this post first appeared on Medium

Do You Know...?

Do You Know...?

How Are You Spending Your Writing Time?

How Are You Spending Your Writing Time?