Getting Organized

Clear Your Head

Regardless of who you are (student, parent, circus freak) and what you do all day, I think that by this point in the year, everyone is so overwhelmed with the things we have to get done that none of us knows where to start. I’m as smart and as organized as the next person, so I generally do fine keeping my To Do List in my noggin. I write down some stuff, but even with extreme sleep deprivation, I can somehow remember all the appointments and deadlines and phone calls and tasks and shopping lists and what needs to be organized, cleaned, dealt with, fixed, filed, put away, given away, or sold. This mental filing system works fine for several months at a stretch. And then, a few times a year, the number of items reaches some invisible threshold, and I’m no longer able to juggle it all using only my steel trap. I have so much stuff to get done that I don’t know where to start. And when I finally do some triage and settle on one task to accomplish, I can’t think straight because my head is too damn full of To Do List.

The only way to regain any semblance of control is for me to write down every last To Do on an actual pen-and-paper list. I’m sure there are deep psychological control issues involved, but it totally works to get the list out of my head and onto paper where I can see it, I can feel safe (issues, I know) that I haven’t forgotten anything, and I can have the physical satisfaction of crossing the done items out. It’s likely that most people these days put their To Do lists on their laptops. But I’m a pen-and-paper girl. My notebook is an actual book with bound pages and no keyboard. It’s medieval, I realize.

So if your School List or your Work List or your House List or your Life In General List has reached the magic threshold (universal physics are possibly involved) you can do what I do and make a list. Or you can take it even farther and read a book about how to organize your life. Or, you can choose the middle road and read this guy’s blog wherein he explains the basic concepts of “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” to you.

The basic idea is helpful for someone like me: you physically collect all To Do items in a box, either the item itself (photo album that needs organizing) or an index card with the item written down (“do research for paper” or “alphabetize cds the night before chem final instead of studying”) and deal with it all, one item at a time. It gets everything out of your head and makes actually dealing with it all much more manageable. Good luck.

Posted by Alexa Harrington
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