Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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Lists, Lists, Lists

I’ve always been sort of a pack rat when it comes to paper. It probably stems back from childhood when my father always insisted I used both sides of the paper to draw on before getting a new one. It probably hit its apex in college. It seemed like there was always some kind of flyer in my mailbox, so I’d stack them up and whenever I needed some scratch paper, I just wrote on the back. I remember Mike, my suitemate, joking about how I would be in charge of the recycling program. After college, I still had about a ream of this scratch paper that I actually moved to my new apartment and stored it in my storage unit there. Why? The practice continues at work. I cut a bunch of old printouts into quarters and use it for jotting down notes. It is a convenient size and it is essentially free. I have a new problem now, though. Lists on quarter-sheet sized paper. Lots of lists.


If I’m at the office and there is something I want to remember to do when I get home, I jot it down one a piece of paper and stick it into my pocket. When I get home, I empty my pockets and put the sheet next to my computer to tackle the next time I’m up there. The problem is that sometimes what I write down does not need to be acted on when I get home, or I don’t have the time to do it. So the list sits there with a hastily scrawled note on it. Soon others get piled on it and now I have scraps of paper all over my desk.


Eventually I get fed up with it and go through the stacks. I discover that probably half of them are no longer relevant so I pitch those. The rest either go back on the desk or I act on them. The issue is that this binge and purge methodology is no solution. Clearly, I need a new methodology.


I know that if I don’t write something down, I will forget it. So what I need to do is rather than keep all these scraps of paper somewhere, I need to create a master list that contains all of these things. Since most of my work at home centers around the computer desk, that is the logical place to put it. So starting this week, I’m going to try to create a constantly updated consolidated list of things to do and post it right on my monitor. Hopefully that will keep me from having dozens of scraps of paper on my desk and keep me better organized and ultimately better balanced.


So, what are some organization tips you have? Have you come across a great way to deal with those little notes you write to yourself? If so, let me know.