Author Assistant 101: The Best Tool I Use to Collaborate with My Author

By J.T. Ellison

Hi, guys! Amy here, dreaming of all the tacos I’ll be eating tomorrow on Cinco de Mayo. 🌮

Like I’ve said before, I spend most of my days in the elastic waistband heaven of yoga pants.

It’s a great time to be alive, folks.

As an author assistant (or a “virtual assistant” as some might say), I can work remotely as long as I have a Wi-Fi/4G connection. My office has been a coffee shop, a doctors’ office, on the shore of a lake, on top of a mountain, and even the beautiful parking lot of a 7-Eleven (glamorous is the life I lead).

“But, Amy,” you ask, “how do you and J.T. stay on the same page if you’re working in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven and she’s . . . (hopefully) not?”

Fair question, dear reader. The simple answer is: the Internet is a magical thing.

The long answer?

During our tenure, J.T. and I have tried several organization tools and project management systems, programs of all sizes and stripes. Some were bare bones, some super robust. But only one has stood the test of time.

Look at kate spencer! She's organized on all of her platforms and winning at life.

Look at kate spencer! She’s organized on all of her platforms and winning at life.

I ❤️ you, Wunderlist.

Wunderlist is a cloud-based task manager on slight organizational steroids (and I mean slight in the best way possible). It’s an effective tool with enough bells and whistles to keep our business running, but not so robust that we’re spending all our time organizing tasks without actually doing the very tasks we’re organizing (a problem with other platforms we’ve used, but that’s a story for another day).

So why do J.T. and I use Wunderlist? A few reasons:

1. Wunderlist gives a birds-eye view of every single project we have in the works. At a glance, we can see the weekly and monthly to-do’s for each of us, look at each project’s workflow, or refer to our database of easy-to-access team information.

2. It updates in realtime. This helps us see changes the other may be making—along with notifications so that we know somebody has added or changed something if we don’t have our eyeballs directly on the app.

3. It doesn’t give us data fatigue. Wunderlist has three levels of organization that just happen to mirror our workflows: Project —> Tasks —> Sub-tasks. Through two years of trial and error, we’ve discovered that this is only as granular as we need. Anything more, and we start to lose things, and our brains turn to mush.

But perhaps more importantly:

How do J.T. and I use Wunderlist as Author and Author Assistant?

We divide our information like this:

1. Weekly tasks (for each of us)

2. Monthly tasks (for each of us)

3. Reminders/Database (good for information

4. Staff Meeting Agenda

5. Project To-Do’s and Workflows

At our weekly Staff Meeting, J.T. and I will go through our Staff Meeting Agenda (which we curate in Wunderlist—it’s our dumping ground for things to discuss every week that aren’t time-sensitive and would require more emails than we care to send). As we talk through each bullet, we can drag the task to the appropriate person to complete. Then we go through our task lists and workflows, making sure we’re each on track to complete our projects by deadline.

Behold, our organizational glory! This is one of our task lists. See? Robust, but not overwhelming. (and can you tell we love emojis? ❤️ 🙌 🌈 )

Behold, our organizational glory! This is one of our task lists. See? Robust, but not overwhelming.
(and can you tell we love emojis? ❤️ 🙌 🌈 )

Placing our meeting agenda in our task manager means fewer things will slip through the cracks. I can’t stress enough how useful Wunderlist has been here. Even if one of us is traveling and we have to meet via FaceTime, the format of our staff meetings still runs the same. And even if one of us moves to a villa in Europe (a girl can dream 🏰), as long as we have Wi-Fi, J.T. and I can still run our business virtually the same way.

Here are a few of my favorite Wunderlist features (I sound like a used car salesman at this point, but I don’t even care—this is how much I love this thing, and I’m not even paid to):

1. The notifications I mentioned earlier—you can receive an alert when someone else has added or changed an item

2. Star your high-priority items to ensure they don’t get lost in the shuffle

3. View all your tasks due today and this week, and even all starred tasks, thanks to Wunderlist’s handy view selection.

Bottom line, folks—Wunderlist is extremely flexible, can provide a birds-eye view of your business or a pretty granular one, whichever you need. Rest assured, J.T. and I will definitely keep this in our organizational arsenal for as long as we can.

Do you use Wunderlist? Which organizational tools are your favorites? Which ones should we try? Tell us in the comments!

Via: JT Ellison


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