Today, I left a mess in my wake. Clothing on the bed. Lists on the sofa in the family room and papers on the floor in my office.
Yesterday, I zoomed in on writing tasks, fully enjoying my midsemester break while it lasted and paying little attention to my impending return to class this morning. While I was in vacation mode, I even checked a few household items off the list. Then, when I could put it off no longer, I graded the papers that then took up residence on my office floor -- a loud and clear reminder that I needed to enter those grades into my grade book.
Today, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things and I'm rediscovering all the breadcrumbs I left for myself -- some before break, some during.
Unfortunately breadcrumbs are messy. But, for those of us with an I need to see it personal style, they work.
The first thing on my to-do list today was to clear up the papers on the floor in my office. But the clipboard I use for my day-to-day reminders beckoned, reminding me that if I didn't double check my weekly schedule, the dominoes would fall.
And it wouldn't be pretty.
By the time I'd finished returning morning emails and cross-checking them with the notes from my clipboard and the schedule I'd crafted, it was time to get ready for work.
And the papers were still on the floor. Enter the clothes on the bed, which, in my defense, were not out-of-season rejects, but rather clean clothes I brought up from the laundry room.
Closing the door behind me on the way to class, I sighed. Not exactly an auspicious start to my work week, shortened though it may be.
The good news? When I got home, I knew exactly where I needed to start. Pick up the papers in the office and put them in order. Put away the clothes. Check and update the to-do list on the sofa.
The bad news? Today's accidental method, while workable and a good fit for my I need to see it personal style in the short term, is clearly not sustainable. Piles and physical reminders work for only as long as we have time to keep after them. When time is tight, however, they quickly spiral out of control if we don't have an overall system in place.
Building systems and methods around our styles gives us the best of both worlds. Strategies like color-coding, labeling and clear storage yield all of the reminders with none of the piles, while others like Give it Five! help us to manage the little style-based reminders that pop up when time is short. Once we've identified our styles, we can begin the process of moving from habits to systems.
This afternoon, I was able to do away with the offending piles and cross a few things off my to-do list in fairly short order, leaving things better than I'd found them this morning. I still have things to do -- papers to grade, blog posts to write -- but at least my house isn't announcing them to the world. Each time I use my systems, I refine them a bit, making it less likely that the dark side of my styles will overwhelm their virtues, even when I'm short on time.
Which is most of the time.