A Method to The Madness

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My trusty notebook and planner.

Organization is major to me, because most of the time I feel like I’m slightly losing my mind and am running in 17 separate directions — hypothetically, of course. I mean, I hardly remember how old I am when people ask me. Am I 23? Am I 24? I don’t know! This is real talk. The mid-20s stage is so beige. Every year feels the same after 21! Ugh.

So as you can probably see, if I didn’t write things down and have a borderline OCD with my schedules and deadlines, I’d absolutely be a contender for the most forgetful person in the world. Actually, that’s not entirely true; I do remember some things. For some reason my brain likes to keep track of only the most useless bits of information — like the exact outfits I wore on my first five dates with John a year and a half ago — while anything minutely significant flies right out into dead air. I need as much help as I can get when it comes to keeping track of my projects, dates, timelines, and deadlines to get anything done day to day, and I’m going to share all my secrets with you. Are you ready?

My system seems complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. It starts with some pretty paper-ware from Target, usually, to get me all excited to keep track of my junk. At the start of the year, I buy one small, lined notebook and one monthly/weekly planner. They go with me to work every day and back home each night. I use the notebook for lists and the planner for, that’s right, planning.

I have always been a huge list person, and I realized the funniest thing when I was home for Christmas last month, which is: I get my list obsession from my mom. Because of course I would. We do all turn into our mothers, so I might as well relish it. I was running errands with her around town one day and she dubbed me her personal assistant. Sitting in the passenger seat, I held her notebook in my lap, pen in hand, carefully drawing a line through each item we accomplished that day. If we made a detour from the list to pick up something else she remembered along the way, she had me add that thing to the list just so I could cross it out. I do that, too. And when she started getting a little nervous and disappointed that we weren’t going to get to every bullet point, I’ve never felt more empathy for a person. I do that, too! I get nervous and disappointed when I don’t finish my list, either! I get it now! This is in my blood, guys.

Anyway, I make lists every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I always need to write out my priorities at work, and then I tackle them in order of importance. If I have a bunch of equally big projects to trudge through, I disperse smaller tasks, like answering so-and-so’s email, in between the big stuff to spread them out and accomplish even more on my list. Gary Keller would argue that your list should only have one item on it, the single most important thing you need to get done (scan his book The One Thing for more on that theory), but I disagree. Writing one thing on a list would just make me forget all the other things I need to get done! His concept of concentrating your attention on one carefully prioritized duty at a time is one I do like, though.

I have also begun writing measurable goals in this notebook so I can see them more often and in turn follow through on them more consistently. And, did you know? If you write out your goals and look at them daily, rather than just think about them every so often, they’re, like, WAY more likely to come true. Food for thought, I know.

As for the monthly/weekly planner situation, I put parties, date nights, girls’ nights, Airbnb reservations (if you’re coming to Dallas soon, stay at my listing!). Trips, conferences, appointments. Pretty much anything from my personal life that involves a day and a time. All my work meetings and deadlines (and I mean every deadline, from mailers I need to send out to the date I need to start fact checking content) go into my Outlook calendar on my computer, which also puts it on my phone. I like to keep my work schedule separate from my personal schedule because it’d be way too overwhelming to keep in one place, and the timelines rarely overlap, except for going to the doctor or things like that (I put those in both calendars).

Like I said, simple, right? Okay, maybe not everyone uses three different items to store details about what they should be doing and where they need to be every day, but let me tell you, if you decide to give this method a go, you’ll be surprised with how simple keeping it up is and how fluid your life becomes. Pretty soon, it’ll be a habit and you’ll be the most organized person you know. High five to that!

One thought on “A Method to The Madness

  1. GK’s book emphasizes that you do the ONE Thing that takes priority…then tackle the rest! And in every day, we get to determine what that ONE thing is. Keep those lists going….and focus on the TOP priority before doing the other items! 🙂

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