Getting Organized to Get Things Done

So, time management and organization have been on my mind lately, mostly because I’ve been feeling out of control. Things just have a way of getting away from me.

I’ve tried the cardfile. I’ve tried the big wall calendar. I’ve tried a PDA. I’ve tried the Household Notebook. I’ve tried the portable planner. I’ve tried using my laptop with Microsoft Outlook. And while all these methods have their pros and cons, none of them seemed to be able to capture everything the way I wanted to.

But it occurred to me today, while reading some articles at SparkPeople about motivation, that maybe the problem wasn’t the tool. Maybe the problem was how I was using it.

When I used the cardfile, things worked really well. I had cards for my chores, cards for contact information, and the whole sha-bang. I used small pieces of scrap paper for one time appointments that didn’t need cards. Everything worked really well because I was mostly home-bound with babies surrounding me. I also wasn’t homeschooling in earnest because my oldest was only 3.

My situation wasn’t much different when I used the big wall calendar, except that we were living in a different place. Of course, the biggest flaw with the calendar was that everything was date oriented. I still used my cardfile for chores and contact info.

It wasn’t long before I moved to the Household Notebook. I set up the FlyLady Control Journal and tried to FLY. Now, I’ll say here that the problem wasn’t with the system, because I know a lot of people who had success with it. The problem was me and how I was trying to use it, without really making any changes in myself.

I then switched everything from the cardfile to Outlook and went out and bought myself a fancy cellphone that synchronized with it. The thing worked great, for awhile, but I still felt the need to write everything down.

Shortly after this, several big changes happened in my life at once. I broke my ankle, which completely upset my life for about a year, I moved to a new state, and I was homeschooling three kids full time. Then I volunteered to help in our family business, joined the local homeschool group, and started teaching violin lessons again. Everything went out the window.

Since our move, I’ve tried it all again. My biggest needs are that whatever system I use, it has to be portable, and it can’t be overwhelming. I still have my PDA and it is still in working order, although we don’t have the phone activated anymore. But to wake up and see a list of over 100 to do items every morning started working my depression.

Through all of this, I kept reading anything I could get my hands on about time management and organization. My favorite is Getting Thing Done by David Allen. And although I am not a religious user of the system (yet), I still keep having these aha moments regarding many of the concepts.

My most recent aha moment occurred this afternoon. The paper planner that I currently have set up will work perfectly, as long as I continue to use it. Daily checklists to review goals and projects are one of the key items, as well as reviewing the whole system on a regular basis. Another key item in making the system work is using the system each day. It doesn’t help to have a system and then let it sit everyday.

I’ll keep you posted as I work through this. It may seem like some of my epiphanies are “duh” things to other people, but I’m one of those who has to discover thing on my own – LOL. I think I might just read through the book again and maybe post some of my other thoughts here as I go.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. juliapadg
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 18:41:36

    I struggle with this too. I love to plan, and I think I’ve used nearly every system out there. I don’t love to follow my plans. Assigning dates doesn’t work well for me either because I get depressed when I get behind.


  2. mandi628
    Oct 27, 2009 @ 22:51:09

    I struggle with depression, too. It is really a challenge for me to accept what I can get done on any given day instead of stressing about what didn’t get done.

    For me, the best days are the days when I remember to get my head out of the list or away from the computer, and spend time with my family. The days where we focus on enjoying each other’s company are the days where we accomplish the most!


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