It’s time to clean up my act.
My wife is a professional organizer and decorator, so those of you who know me well know how she suffered when she first moved in with me. I hadn’t devolved into a complete hoarder, but I had gotten an unfortunately significant start. She dug me out. Honestly, I wish I had her ability to let go of things, but I tend to hold on to too much. Naturally, when she asked me to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I just about had a panic attack. But, I did read it and, once I got past some of the ways the author talks about discarding things, I could see why my blushing bride loved the book. In spite of whatever reviews you may have read about the extreme method described, it’s really not so terrifying. The essence of it is to get rid of the things that you don’t use or need or want any more, to make room, both literally and figuratively.
I’m not saying that it’s been easy for me to do, because it hasn’t, but I do find myself thinking about what I really need and use quite a bit. The reality is, I have too much stuff to really keep track of it all. So, I’ve been taking some of the time I have, while I wait to get connected to my next work opportunity, to reevaluate and clean out.
I have told myself for a long time that I don’t like change, that I’m not good with it. But, that’s not really true. Sure, I like to control change, but in many areas of my life, I’m constantly changing, growing, trying new ideas and methods, keeping what works and discarding the rest. One area that I haven’t been working at as much lately is my personal organization and scheduling. I’ve been very reactive and not nearly proactive enough to suit me.
I used to be a “to do list” fanatic. Every day I’d start my day with a fresh list, carrying over the things I didn’t finish from the previous day, and adding to it. On Friday, I’d set my list up for Monday before I left the office. First thing Monday, I’d review the list and see if I thought of anything else to add over the weekend, because my brain just will not shut off and stop thinking about work. It’s how I’m wired, I guess.
Mainly, though, I loved crossing things off my list.
I know, it’s a strange thing, but the idea of crossing something off my list actually gave me a little thrill. And, when I’d get to the end of the day, I’d see all the things I’d crossed off and think about how great it was to get all that stuff done. Somewhere, though, in all the jobs and the “life stuff”, like getting married, divorced, beating cancer and getting married again, I lost that habit. I tried to “leverage technology” and my smart phone to get a to do list app that would synchronize with my computer, but, frankly, nothing ever worked to my satisfaction. And, of course, it was a convenient excuse for why I stopped doing it.
Some time back, I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen and I sort of made a half-hearted attempt to set some of his system up, but, honestly I never put enough effort into it. At the time, his book didn’t have a lot of technological help for geeks like me that wanted to use the cloud to keep things synched up. I need to find out what’s changed, because the time is ripe for me to re-read that book and, as my wife and I reorganize our physical space, get my mental space in order and prepared for a new job. This is the perfect time to get reorganized and have my system in place, ready to go, before I land somewhere and have an endless stream of projects to track.
So tell me, gentle readers, what do you use to stay organized? If you’re a fan of the GTD method, what tech tools do you use to stay on track?
Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A man is known by the company his mind keeps."
--Thomas Bailey Aldrich