It is very important to keep careful notes of which poem you have sent where. This is because most magazines do not like simultaneous submissions, and those who don’t mind that ask you to let them know if any of the poems you sent them becomes unavailable. Submitting the same poems to more than one competition is an absolute no-no. So keeping track is the professional thing to do.
I have seen and tried many different methods of keeping track over the years. I’ve used tables, spreadsheets, post-it notes on hard copy and so on. But finally I ave settled on a very low tech solution. I have small notebook on my desk right by the computer. In it I note down which poems I have sent where, together with notes on when they were submitted and what the usual length of time is for a response. With competitions, I note who the judges are, the closing date and what the prize is. I keep one page for each entry.
When a response is received, I put a single line through the page and note the outcome underneath, either ticking or highlighting the poems accepted. If the work was rejected but a kind comment was made, I add this to the note. If accepted I make a note of the expected publication date and whether a fee is expected.
Every so often I make a list of which poems I have available for submitting. It is easy to track back through the book to see the history of a particular poem, so the same one isn’t sent out again to a publication which has rejected it, unless of course they liked iit and might be interested in a redraft.
When a poem is published, I make a note of this in a word doc called ‘Acknowledgements for the Next Collection’, but of course this can also be cross-referenced in my little black book. This is useful when I am compiling my acknowledgements but it is also useful to remind me which magazines are likely to publish particular types of my poems.
I have found this low tech method the simplest and most effective means of keeping track. And so I offer the idea to others, with the caveat that it is important to find the method that suits you personally, that you are most likely to keep up!