Rather than release a new tool this week, I want to share a third party planning and productivity tool that can help you better organize and schedule your writing projects. This tool is called a Gantt Chart, and a great tool for creating them is TomsPlanner.com.

Let's take a quick look at what Gantt Charts are and what you might use them for as a writer.

What is a Gantt Chart?

A Gantt Chart is project planning tool that gives you a visual representation of your schedule (including milestones) and any necessary resources. Here's what they look like (based on a made-up example using the Tom's Planner demo which you can play with before registering).

Gantt chart for authors

How Can Writers Use Gantt Charts?

In the image above, I set up a demo based on a book publishing schedule. It maps out the research, outlining, writing, editing, production, and marketing schedules. It gives you an overview of your timeline and lets you see if you've planned for too much at any given time. And it forces you to consider the big picture so you can make more realistic plans.

There are far more things writers can do with these charts though. Here are some ideas:

  • Plan your book publication schedule.
  • Map out a large client project (like the research, interviews, outlining, drafting, and editing of a white paper).
  • Plan a marketing or PR campaign.
  • Schedule a blog or website development project.
  • Map out your overall work schedule.

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The primary thing I use this tool for is to create a more visual version of my 5-year publishing plan. It helps me avoid too much overlap between projects under different pen names and to balance writing and editing stages to maximize what I'm able to do with my time.

If you've never used a Gantt chart before, check out the online demo from Tom's Planner. It has a simple interface (if you can right-click and drag-and-drop, you have it covered). And it creates beautiful charts. With a free account you can set up one project chart. If you want more than that, you can upgrade to one of their quarterly or yearly plans (with options for 20 charts or an unlimited account).

Do you use Gantt charts for project planning? If so, what tool do you use and what kinds of projects have they helped you with?

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Indie Writers, NakedPR.com, and BizAmmo.com.

Jenn has 18 years experience writing for others, around 13 years experience in blogging, and over 10 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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