I used to be the most organized person I know.
Hey, good news. I still am. The bar is set low in our house, Big Tuna doesn’t even keep his socks in a sock drawer. When he’s putting his socks away, any drawer will do. It makes my eye twitch just thinking about it.
The systems I had in place before I fell and hit my head are the same systems I rely on now and are the systems I credit with giving me some peace of mind in what could otherwise be a pretty tumultuous way of life.
I subscribe to the notion that the brain is no place to store your important stuff. Your brain is a place for thinking, creativity, invention. Society has all kinds of awesome ways and places to store important stuff. There’s no need to keep your crap in a precious space upstairs. If you fill up the attic with all the random day-to-day things to remember, like boxes of lists and things to remember, you won’t have any room to dance up there.
My brain is operating at a slight deficit. And lucky for me, I didn’t keep anything of significance up there, so there was nothing to lose.
I was thinking today about all the different things I did, and continue to do, to keep my day organized. I thought it might be helpful to share some of my tips and tricks, in case you wanted to also free up space in your attic so you can dance more freely and more often up there.
Let’s break it down into three categories. I have rules for each:
1. I keep an agenda. Old fashioned pen and paper kind. There are no dates in it.
2. On the 15th of every month, I write out the following month as a week per two pages, literally – I write the days in on blank pages. This exercise has been important to me because numbers still play tricks with me, especially when I’m writing them down.
3. In the weekly calendar, I only ever write down things that are time or day-sensitive. I will talk about where the ‘other’ stuff goes later on.
4. Every Sunday I take a half hour (sometimes more) to sit down and look at what’s going on for the schedule of the week about to start.
5. If I have more than three time-sensitive things on a given day, I try to reschedule. If I can’t reschedule, I make sure I have nothing that evening or the next day.
6. I make sure I have two days (minimum) where nothing is time or day sensitive. I write those down as “rest days”. Whether I rest or not depends on my energy, but I make sure that I don’t have anything specific to do on a rest day.
7. I make sure I don’t have more than one (rarely, two) evening activities in a given week. A good place to plan a rest day is the day following a day that had an evening activity.
Off In the More Distant Future
1. If I’ve not yet created a calendar (i.e. something is coming up in the following month and it isn’t the 15th of this month, so I haven’t written out the weeks yet), I jot it down (with date and time) on the last page of the current month. When I go to create the following month, I know to migrate all that information over to the days once I’ve put them in.
2. Birthdays and stuff: that happen every year, well, I’m ashamed to say I rely on Facebook for some of these things. But I also rely on Big Tuna. Which is obviously a huge mistake because I miss a lot of birthdays. Room for improvement here.
1. Lists can be tricky. To the left of every week’s layout, I have a ‘running’ list. It doesn’t have a theme. It can be thoughts I have had, groceries I need to pick up, calls I need to make, appointments I need to schedule, whatever. In the current week, as things come to my mind, I throw them there.
2. I take a few minutes at the end of every day to take a scroll down that list and put the stuff that’s in there where it belongs. If it’s a call I need to make, I make it, and cross it off. If it’s milk or eggs or whatever, I start a sheet of paper that needs to go with me to the grocery store. As I migrate those thoughts, I strike them off the list in my calendar, because those thoughts have gone where they need to go.
3. The grocery list lives in my wallet. In non-Covid time, I don’t usually go to the store without my wallet so it’s easy to have forgotten to bring the list, but good news, I have it without having to remember it. And when Big Tuna calls and says he’s at the store, I know to go to my wallet and pull out the list so I can tell him what we need.
4. More specific lists might get their own page in my journal. Books I want to buy has its own list, for example. Things I want to blog about is another. BUT, I still put it on the week list, and migrate it when I sit down to do that. That reminds me of it, twice.
5. Speaking of sitting down to do these things, I actually make an appointment with myself. Monday morning, I spend a little time focusing on organization. Putting all my pieces in the right places.
How often do you make appointments with yourself? Or are you last in your own priority food chain? Try making an appointment with yourself this week. Just an hour. Sit down with your to-do list and figure out what got done, and what doesn’t need to get done. Make some space in your life