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Kelly J. Cooper

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Getting Organized [Feb. 25th, 2010|01:57 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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This started life as a comment in jbsegal's LJ about trying to get organized.

I should preface this by saying that I AM NOT ORGANIZED. Not at all, not even a little bit. But I have a few survival strategies.

I just picked up ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau. Haven't actually looked at it yet, though. I'll folks know if it's helpful.

I second Hilary's recommendation (over on Facebook) for Morgenstern (Organizing From the Inside Out is the one book I've read & enjoyed, but she has others).

Get it Done When You're Depressed by Fast & Preston, also useful.

The things that have helped me:

1. Habits. I used to lose my glasses all the time at the Ranch. I had to force myself to NOT put the damn things down anyplace BUT the little marble shelf or my bag. Every time I started to put them down someplace else, I had to make myself stop & go to the designated place.

It was a pain in the ass to teach myself, but I reaped the reward of NOT losing my damn glasses anymore.

In the same vein, if I'm interested in a book, I write down the title & authors & (if really motivated) the ISBN and stick the paper in my pocket. Yes, this often means I have 20 little pieces of paper in my pocket, but it also means I HAVE the info if I really need it. Since it's a habit, I check my scraps of paper whenever I'm trying to remember a book title.

Supposedly it takes 21 days to make a habit that sticks in your brain. If you miss a day, you start again -- 21 continuous days.

2. Notes. When I was working at nitpicky jobs, especially ones that made me track what I did during the day, I maintained an open file & made notes.

E.g., 10am, got in, read email, fought with Jason
10:30am, con call with lawyers
11:07, misc
11:30, shit requested by lawyers from call
12ish lunch
1:17pm, fuckin policy discussion; action items in notebook

Then, at the end of the day, these were enough info that I could reconstruct the day & write a brief report, along with figure out what I need to do the next day.

If I couldn't do it at the end of the day, I could usually figure it out from my notes in the morning. But don't leave it too long or your notes won't make sense.

3. Notebook. I used to carry a spiral-bound legal pad to every meeting. It was always with me. Before things started, I'd go to a fresh page and put the date up at the top. DATE DATE DATE DATE. Very useful, especially when people ask you "about that meeting back on January 27th" and you can whip it open & see what the hell they're talking about.

I often put the topic of the meeting next to the date. If I had a pile of meetings, I'd sometimes put the time in too. Sometimes I even wrote down who was there, especially if my action items depended on their action items, I'd write down theirs as well as my own.

ALSO, I would use the left margin to tag things with ACTION and draw a box around it. This not only gave me a record of my action items, but also cemented them more firmly in my mind.

When I was running the meeting, and writing down EVERYONE's action items, I'd tag mine with a little "Me" above the box and circle it. That way I could quickly distinguish mine from everyone else's.

You can also use the dated notebook in conjunction with your daily notes to reconstruct days that went by too fast for you to figure out what was happening.

Now that I have a bunch of different things that I do, each gets a different notebook. A green one for Garden Club, a red one for MYP, a black one for my diary & misc work/life stuff, a red one labeled "SICK AND TIRED" for my medical stuff, etc. I've cowed several doctors into submission by whipping out my notebook and reciting the dates when various events happened with my health.

[User Picture]From: lillibet
2010-02-25 02:08 pm (UTC)
One of the major thinking-shifts that has helped me stay organized, I learned from a book I read at RFB&D for teachers of pre-school and elementary art: the clean-up is part of the project, not a separate task.

In art class, this means that when the teacher is explaining what will happen, it continues through "and then we put the caps back on the glue and put the glue in its box and we clean off the table..." etc.

In my life, it means that I try not to let the clean-up, whatever that means in context, get separated from the job. The show isn't over until strike is complete. Dinner isn't done until the dishes are clean. Bills aren't paid until they are filed.

It's a simple shift, but it really helps me to feel better about the housekeeping tasks--they're just part of the project.
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