I pretend to be organized, and I think you should too.
If you’re one of the few truly organized people, this post is not for you.
But if you’re like me, you want to be organized, but it’s a constant struggle. With concerts, students, family and just daily life moving so fast, there’s no time left for organizing. At the same time, I know I can’t afford not to be organized. I used to feel guilty and embarrassed.
But not any more. I follow three simple rules, and I pretend to be organized.
Before I share my three rules, I want to explain the power of the word “pretend.”
First, there is magic in make-believe. Remember the commercial in which the boy dressed as Darth Vader tried to use the Force on everything in his house? Part of the emotional appeal of that ad was in the boy’s belief in his costume. We have all felt that feeling – when you put on the costume, you put on the persona. It’s powerful magic.
But that’s only part of my meaning. Another use of the phrase “pretend to” is to aspire to something, as in a boxer “pretending to” the title, or the prince being the “pretender to” the throne. Pretending doesn’t have to false or insincere; it can be a goal.
So when I pretend to be organized, I have the power from making believe I am organized and the power of affirming organization as my goal. Plus, I have my three rules to keep me on the right path. Here they are:
1. Keep it all in one place. The four essential tools you need and will use everyday are a datebook, an address book, a receipt or expense tracker and a memo pad. These tools should all be in one place so they work together and so that no essential information is misplaced. Here are three options for consolidating your data:
For the traditionalist: any dayplanner type system. These are fabulous for people who like to write it down, and systems range from simple to elaborate. Before I went digital, I used to use Day-Timers.
For the techie: a digital filing system (I love Evernote!) and a great calendar app are all you need, whether your device of choice is a laptop, tablet or a smartphone.
For the scrapper: You need a physical calendar, one that is not just a mental calendar. And you need a file envelope with a clasp for you to throw all your scraps of paper in. Perhaps you would like some colorful plastic envelopes. It’s a bare bones system, but it can work.
2. Make a to-do list every week. I used to make daily to-do lists, but I hated having to move an item I didn’t finish onto the next day’s list. When I make a weekly list, I find I can use my available time more productively. And by checking my schedule at the beginning of the week, I don’t forget those dental appointments or other changes in my routine.
3. Throw it out. Reducing paper and digital clutter makes me feel better. Whether it’s an email or a piece of paper, my policy is to file it or forget it. If it has information I need, I file it in the appropriate place right away. If I don’t need to file it, I throw it out. The difficulty comes when the information may be important later, but I’m not certain. Then my rule is: if I need it later, could I find it out from another source? If I could find what I need with a quick phone call or google search, then I don’t need to save it, and I throw it out.
I hope these three rules will help you pretend to be organized.
And now, I will clean out that closet. Or maybe tomorrow.