Organisational Tips from 19th Century Authors


Mar 21 2017

Gold Tape

Organisational Tips from 19th Century Authors

If it’s good enough for Jane Austen, it’s good enough for me.

Is anyone else obsessed with learning about how their favourite authors got things done? It’s no secret that I’m a productivity junkie, but there’s something extra special about learning a tip from a 19th century pro.

Organisational Tips from 19th Century Authors

Organisational Tips from 19th Century Authors

Schedule a typical day like the Alcott Family 

When I visited the Orchard House in Concord as a child, I chose as a souvenir this print of the Alcott family’s Order of Indoor Duties for Children. I was in awe of its orderliness: scripted in a table is a typical daily time table, divided into Morning, Forenoon, Noon, Afternoon, and Evening. (Note to self to start using “forenoon” in life)

I have always loved writing out a schedule for myself, and this one, dated 1846, was reassurance that it was the right thing to do. It’s not dissimilar to my Ideal Week template in my Passion Planner today!

Organisational Tips from 19th Century Authors

Index notebooks like George Eliot

In The Road to Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead I learned that George Eliot indexed her notebooks. Ingenious! I always keep a thin notebook for hand-writing drafts, and many a minute is spent flipping through it trying to find a certain article I started. Now I number each page and keep a log of what I’ve written where.

Organisational Tips from 19th Century Authors

Make do with a tiny desk like Jane Austen

I’ve already written about Jane Austen as a minimalist hero. When I’m getting as squirmy and cranky as Rory Gilmore when someone takes her study tree, I remind myself that if Jane Austen can write novels at this minuscule table, I can manage in my parents’ dining room, at an airplane tray table, or at the train station Starbucks with patchy wifi. Time to stop being a study diva.

Do you steal tips from favourite authors? Let me know what practices you’ve picked up!

P.S. Taylor Swift Songs that are Actually about Jane Austen Heroines

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