About two years ago I started using an Excel file to keep track of things. It has worked WONDERS for me, especially in regard to reading challenges and review copies. (This post doesn't cover my extensive TBR list - that one requires a post all it's own!)
- When I decide to join a challenge I figure out how many books I'll need to read. For example, the Mind Voyages Challenge includes 12 books over 12 months. Then I code my chart to include enough spaces for that challenge. With the Mind Voyages Challenge I filled in 12 places on my chart with MV. As I choose the books I want to read, I update my chart. This month I decided to listen to GENESIS so on my chart I wrote Genesis (MV). And if my reading plan derails one month, no big deal - I'll simply move that MV to the next month and make it up later. Looking ahead on my chart, I can see that I need to read about 5 specific books each month in order to complete the challenges I've signed up for. That is a reasonable goal for me and reminds me not to sign up for any other big challenges.
- The best thing my chart does for me it that it keeps me from overcommitting. If I get a pitch for a book to review and it's one I'm interested in, I look at my file and see when I can reasonably expect to read and review it. I give that info to the publicist/author/whoever and let him/her decide if my timeframe is acceptable (I'm usually scheduling 2-3 months out). If so, I write the title in that month on my chart. By setting my own deadline with the person sending me the book, I feel like we are both benefiting; I'm committed to read/review the book at a time that is convenient for me (AND I won't leave it wasting away on my shelf) and the sender knows to expect a review at a specific time.
If you are like me and are fascinated with charts and the way people keep organized, you are welcome to view my chart. Of course there are some (many?) of you who will think this is completely over-the-top crazy, but that's okay. My house may not be neat and tidy but my reading schedule certainly is!
And now I want to hear from all of you. How do you keep track of what you plan to read for challenges? If you accept review copies, how do you decide when to read them? How do you keep track of what you've committed to?