Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Taking Stock

Photo: Lauren Mancke via Minimography
I am the sort of person who leaves multiple windows open on her computer. (Multiple doesn't begin to describe it). When I discovered that I could create a dozen or more different desktops on my MacBook, this made me love my laptop even more than I already did.

Any guesses what my predominant style is?

Whether our styles reveal themselves in an unmistakeable I need to see it, drop and run or cram and jam fashion, or in a subtler, more nuanced way, we all need to pause and take stock sometimes. For me, last Saturday was that time. This was not surprising; the end of the month was, at that time, a little more than a week away.

So, I set out to make a master list that would enable me to replace the visual clutter with one neat list. My goal was to close out the open windows on my computer and streamline the to-do lists on my desk.

I started out with one measly piece of paper, but quickly decided that to really get my house in order, I needed separate pages for key categories. This method would accomplish two things: it would organize my thoughts (by category) and keep my lists shorter, and therefore less overwhelming. I briefly considered going back to the color-coded list format I use in the summer, but decided that I'd be better off with pages in a notebook.

So, armed with my calendar, my work to-do notebook (each class has its own column) and my spiral-bound notebook, I dug in.

First stop: my laptop. I had tabs open in my browser for articles I wanted to read, use for blogs or reference for class, along with references for writing projects. I had presentations in various stages of completion, some old (for reference) and some current. I had writing projects galore. Beginning with the browser tabs, I took one thing at a time, adding each to the appropriate list and then closing it out.  Because it's easier to access links by simply clicking on them, I created a master list of the links I had open and wanted to return to and emailed it to myself. Now, instead of leaving all those tabs open, I simply have to open the email and click on the link I want.

Second stop: all those notes on my desk. This part was easy, because, as it turns out, there weren't that many of them. Apparently my paper system is working better than my electronic system -- something that was a nice surprise, but, in retrospect, shouldn't have been surprising at all. I am, at heart, a paper-and-pencil girl.

Third stop (which perhaps should have been first): the multiple piles that scream, "An I need to see it/drop and run person lives here!" Why weren't they first? Because I'm more organized than I look. The really important, to-do list qualifying stuff is on my computer or my desk.

As I worked on the list, a funny thing happened: I started to get really excited about tackling all of the things I was writing down. While visual reminders can be helpful, having too many of them for too long can become exhausting, and therefore counterproductive. After a while, they all blend together and become a congealed mass of things to do.

Thank goodness I have my nice, neat list.

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