My Favorite Tools For Creating An Editorial Calendar

By: Chris Gardner  Image by:  Seyed Mostafa Zamani

Here’s my system and why it works for me. If you don’t already have a organization system in place, follow these three rules to get started, and keep track of all your brilliant ideas.

1) Separate Your Personal Calendar and Your Blog Calendar Your editorial calendar belongs to your blog, not to you, or even your personal brand. In the best case scenario, you can use your actual calendar to record notes and keep track of ideas, and that can be tough to do when they’re all mixed in with time-specific events. Plus, at some point, someone besides you will see your editorial calendar, and it can be confusing to have your original content mixed in with your dentist appointments and bill pay reminders.

2) Use Whatever System is Most Accessible An editorial calendar is only helpful if you actually use it. So, pick the software or app that is most accessible to you. I’ve found that Google apps work best for me. I like that they’re online and I can keep them open in browser tabs next to my current projects, instead of having to switch back and forth between software. I use Calendar to keep track of my time and dates, but my editorial calendar is actually a spreadsheet. Sometimes I’ll write down ideas and brainstorms in Documents, but most of my time in spent in the cells of a spreadsheet. I can then share these with collaborators, and everyone has access to the current version of a document. I also use Google+ ‘s hangout feature to do the majority of my business calls and planning with my team, since you can create documents right in the call. To keep track of tasks, these days I prefer TeuxDeux, but I’ve also used Todoist to great success. On particularly busy days or weeks, I like to just use pen and paper, so I can keep track of all the projects and roles I play.  All of the apps sync with my phone, which is essential when you work from home/the coffee shop/wherever you please.

3) Spreadsheets (or Grids) are Your Friend Whatever system you use, take advantage of some sort of visual organization. Headings and bullet points are too limited to  keep track of ideas over long periods. Spreadsheets, or some sort of gridded system, are much more useful when planning things that have both aspects of time (left to right) and of variety of content (up and down). Columns and rows are your best buddies. The ability to resize cells and format them into tables and units has really streamlined my process. Color-coding types of posts (how-tos, narrative, shopping guides, roundups, etc) allows me to make sure there’s a diversity of content published each week. It takes a little while to set up, but once you’ve got it, you can use it for years to come.  I find it easy to see a month all laid out in a spreadsheet, but you can add each piece as color-coded events to a calendar to see patterns in your publishing and to make sure you keep things fresh.