Tag Archives: organization

Wishful Thinking…

I wish I could say that I’ve been writing my ass off the last few days.

I wish I could say that my taxes were completed and mailed.

I wish I could say that my office was clean, organized, and that I could see the floor.

That’s right – I can’t see the floor.

This weekend I got hit with the need-to-be-organized bug.

The biggest task? Shredding.

I thought my shredder had died but it had merely overheated. But that was months ago, sometime in 2009, and I haven’t kept up with my shredding so everything, every draft, final version, note, research document et al is littering the floor of my office waiting to be shredded.

I shred all my writing.

Not because I’m paranoid, simply because I like my life private and my writing shredded until it is ready to be read. Most of what needs to be shredded is early drafts of short stories and a couple novellas.

Worse, a friend was investigating a new personal organizational model so I of course had to jump on the bandwagon. Which was fun and rather informative. We are reading “Getting Thing Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen.

Happily I was able to get a copy from the library.

So, what have I learned so far?

The major thing I’ve learned was not in the book. I’m having a difficult time dealing with what is possible vs. what is do-able.

There are a lot of writing opportunities out there – articles, short stories, novellas, etc. Most have deadlines and often the deadlines cluster. The thing is – how do I keep track of all the opportunities without making them feel like “real” deadlines.

In the book, Allen talks about the psychological impact of things undone.

He calls these items “open loops”. Each open loop keeps playing in your head usually reminding you what needs to be done when you can’t do anything about it distracting you from focusing on the tasks at hand.

I realized that all these possible open loops, each thing I might write, were making me feel unsuccessful. Since I made each of them a calendar item and I only follow through on about 1/3 of them it was sapping my sense of achievement, making me feel like a failure.

Now in reality these writing deadlines are options not givens. I need to keep track of all of them but choose which ones I commit to. Since life is always moving and changing and day to day there is only so much I cannot control I need some method to track the options that leaves them options and doesn’t make them action items.

My solution, which wasn’t in the book by the way, was to keep two calendars.   

My Outlook Calendar has all hard deadlines – things that must be done by a specific day or at a specific time.

My Google Calendar is a time based collection tool for all the possible projects I can choose from. It is a reference not a plan.

This was a big deal.

This morning I got up knowing what was real and what was possible and that I had options.

Whoop!

I’d tell you more, but Donna is coming to clean my house in a few hours and I need to finish shredding and recycling everything on the floor and getting things picked up so she can clean.

~ Tess

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I feel like I’m starting all over from the beginning.

My thoughts are in a bit of a jumble and my office is trashed.

More trashed than it was on Tuesday. Last night I went looking for something from my past – from when I taught dance – and I couldn’t find it. After pulling everything out of storage in my office and going through each box and then tearing apart my “dance” graveyard I came to the realization that I must have already donated my cute hand stamps to the gym. I have a vague memory of doing so.

Okay, I found the memory after I’d already torn through everything.

I really need to go through my stuff. I found things from previous office jobs, old boyfriends, writing from the typewriter age. Really now – all these things are taking up way more space than they should.

One of my News Year’s Resolutions was to spend the year gradually going through the house and digging through the detritus. I’ve lived here for five years – longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life. I love this place. It had just the right amount of storage – enough to allow me to gather junk without having to go through every piece of paper.

And speaking of pieces of paper, my shredder died. That is a real problem because I produce a lot of paper and I shred all my drafts. It just makes me feel better.

Every once in a while, when I was working in the real world, I would hit a point where I needed to clean out my office. Usually the craziness would hit about once every year to 18 months. I’d file and rearrange things and feel like I could be productive again. Even though I can’t see the piles of paper on the floor behind me – I can sense them. And my desk had random crap all over it.

It’s been about 18 months since my office landed in its current configuration and almost a year since I was laid off. Hmmm… time to organize.

I remember when I was working at an espresso stand outside Powell’s Books in Beaverton. The bookstore folk were great to me. They let me borrow books while I was working and during the slow times I would pick a random topic and read everything I could get my hands on. Once of the topics was about organizing – I’ve never been very good at it. I remember one of the books was about organization for Left Brain folks. Those of us who need to “see” everything. That’s me. I have a horrible time remembering what is put away in boxes or files. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

That style works great if you have unlimited space, but I don’t so I need to put things in files and boxes. That would leave my desk space for Current project that I need to “see” on a daily basis. I also need to get rid of things. I’m holding on to my past and I’m not sure it is a good idea. One of the other books I read during my Powell’s time was about how going through your past – the specific example was boxes containing the remnants of an old job – can free you. You don’t know what feelings you are dragging around with you because of what’s in those boxes. Even if your conscious mind doesn’t know what is there your subconscious does.

So it time. Time to start going through all those other mes all those other jobs and let them go.

As one of my favorite authors put it in her journal from 1977 –  

“I would like to travel light on this journey of life, to get rid of the encumbrances I acquire each day. The most difficult thing to let go is my self, that self which, coddled and cozened, becomes smaller as it becomes heavier. I don’t understand how and why I come to be only as I lose myself, but I know from long experience that this is so.”

Madeleine L’Engle

~ Tess

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