I am a list maker. I always have been, something my very organized Uncle Bob taught me at a young age. Currently, I am an event manager and my job relies upon me being organized, timely, and on top of my game. Even before I was paid to manage events, I was chairing nonprofit events where I needed to stay on top of everything.
A coworker came by my cube recently and remarked that I am the most organized person he knows. This came as he viewed my variety of calendars that were open/out at the time, while I was making my to-do list for the next day. At work I maintain a paper desk calendar (prominently displayed next to my computer), my Microsoft outlook calendar (color coded), and a color-coded to-do list that I re-do for the next day before I leave each night. This is in addition to my paper calendar that hangs on my fridge, my apple Reminders app, and my iCal that I literally don’t think I could function without.
Here’s the thing.. I’m a natural disaster. In the interest of authenticity, here is photographic proof:
Don’t get me wrong, my home is not dirty. I fight a constant vacuum battle against dog hair (as in daily vacuuming) and I wash and change my sheets more than normal (perhaps due to the 3 dogs that like to share my bed…) Its more of an organized, fairly clean, chaos in the world of Cathy.
I am a piler - by this I mean my organization method is to make piles. I like to point out this article that asserts that, “Intelligent people tend to be messy, stay awake longer, and swear more.” In it, it says that a messy desk means your mind is obviously occupied with other things than cleaning and even argues that it could lead to creativity. Yep, lets go with that. I’ve referenced this article God knows how many f*cking times.
When I had my boutique, I read a book called Better Than Normal: How What Makes Your Different Can Make You Exceptional by Dale Archer. I read it thinking it would help me understand my employees but instead it changed my view of myself. In the book, Dale Archer takes on 8 “liabilities” aka personality disorders and argues how they can be used to one’s advantage. There is even a quiz to help you identify where you fall! I scored highest on “Adventurous”. This is what he likens to ADHD. All my life I’ve had a hard time focusing on just one thing. I like to have several things going on at once, multi-tasking is my jam. His descriptions and how to hone my tendencies have helped me harness this as a strength. In events, you HAVE to be able to do multiple things at once or else you fall on your face!
I get my piling tendencies from my dad. We are both very visual learners, probably because we are both hard of hearing so auditory learning isn’t super feasible for us. We both may have piles of things, but we can tell you EXACTLY where the thing we want is. For example, I forgot my work badge one morning and my dad happened to be coming to the track later that day. I told him exactly where to look, “In my pink chair in the office, there is a black backpack underneath a tan tote bag. In the smaller inside zip pocket, my work badge is there.” He located it in no time at all. Our particular brand of organization drives a lot of people insane, especially my poor Mom who desperately wanted me to have a clean room all my life. She would bet me I couldn’t find something in my catastrophe of a room and when I could tell her exactly where it was without entering the room she would huff angrily and inform me that it was time to clean my room because she said so.
Why do I share this extraneous information? To explain why my methods that I am about to share work so well for me: I am visual. I need a visual representation of what my days look like and what needs to get done. In the academic sense, this includes reading. I have always been TERRIBLE at memorization. If I have to recite something to you word for word I need weeks if not months to prepare. BUT - if I can tell you about it in my own words? I need 5 minutes tops.
So, here's my method if you haven’t already caught on: I write it all down. It doesn’t matter if its a girls wine night or a meeting with a client - I put it in my calendar IMMEDIATELY. My girlfriends can attest to my obsession with iCal and adding them to the event. :)
On Sunday evenings, I sit down (usually with a glass of wine, but I guess that isn’t totally necessary) and put every single thing that I’ve added from my digital calendars on to my paper refrigerator calendar. Once I have the appointments and meetings and get togethers on the schedule, I log in to BYouFitness and go ahead and schedule my Bounce and Barre classes for the week. Do I sometimes have to cancel? Sure. But, if it’s on the calendar - I tend to try to schedule around them. This is the best way for someone as naturally unorganized with a tendency to say yes to too much as I am to make sure I get my workouts in! At work, I’ve started the same ritual on Fridays for the next week. Digital must be immediate, but the paper calendars are weekly and they are my fail-safe.
The to-do list is my daily savior. I do this at home and at work. There is something SO SATISFYING about crossing things off your list. An ex once asked me if I ever thought I would complete my list or if I was going to keep transferring the things I didn’t get done to the next day. Uh, duh. That’s exactly how this works. And it makes sure the relevant things get done first, as they naturally float to the top of the list!
Will this work for you? I think so - because it’s not rocket science. Its just the method to my madness that has allowed me to pretend like I can be in 4 places at once!