In 2006 when I was doing my masters degree in counseling I ran into an organizational bump in the road: I knew too many people named Jen.
Let me explain.
I was going to school full-time, working within my masters program and babysitting for several families to support myself. Being that busy (and being a borderline obsessive organizer) meant that I had a planner, a planner with a very specific layout and one that was full of appointments, meetings and due dates.
My favorite kind of planner is the kind that has a monthly calendar with the open days in between. I am very, very specific about this requirement. I know, I know, stop being a control freak. I just like the option of seeing my entire month and then being able to write down a more detailed schedule for each day.
Each day had babysitting jobs, meetings on campus, course times and then the time scheduled with classmates/friends. So, a Monday could look like this:
I was so organized, I would even schedule time for my meals and my reading. I was super busy. But this (along with my compulsive list making) always kept me on track.
Here is where I would run into problems:
Oh good, Jen at 10 and then Jen at 1. Wait, which Jen? I didn’t know if I was supposed to be babysitting, meeting a friend or working on a project. And this my friends, is where my system started to fall apart.
How, you ask, does one obsessive organizer become even more anal retentive? The answer is simple…Color Coding. Yes, this truly brought out my inner Monica. I color coded my planner (and my lists).
Red- School Work and meetings related to school work
Green- Babysitting Jobs
Now I knew that 10-12 was BABYSITTING for Jen and 1-3 was seeing my friend Jen. Sometimes I would use more words and not just names but even seeing the colors without reading the words I could get an idea of what my day was going to be like. This makes me Type A personality feel good.
This meant carrying around different color pens in addition to my planner, flash drive, books and whatever food I was managing to stuff down my throat. But totally worth it.
I am what is referred to as a “millennial” a 20 or 30 something-er who relies heavily on technology and can be perceived as lacking social skills because of this reliance. Except, I’m not. I still prefer paper planners (see above). I keep trying to move to electronic calendars, I really do. My back problems and my eco-friendly habits are all pointing me in the less is more direction when it comes to paper and books; but I can’t quite seem to adjust.
I love the internet and social media (although that was an acquired taste- and is now an addiction- for me) but no matter how many different ways I try it, I can’t move away from calendars and planners that I can physically write on. I hate it but I need it and it is very un-millennial for me (non-millennial?). I linked up my Google calendar with my husband’s but I almost never use it (and neither does he). It doesn’t help that I have a Blackberry that is slow and not as user friendly with calendars. I use Outlook at work but I also have a desk calendar that I use for scheduling appointments and events (made from recycled paper 🙂 ).
Sometimes when I want to plan out the blog I write my ideas on paper. I use scrap paper, but still! Part of this is that I don’t have a user friendly electronic device that I can carry with me. I tried to use a calendar and take notes on my Kindle (not Kindle Fire) but it is very slow and isn’t that easy with the mini keyboard. And don’t even get me started on the decision to get a Kindle…I LOVE books but they were taking up too much space in my small apartment. It was a smart but difficult decision.
Now I realize that my inability to organize thoughts electronically, may be pouring into my blog. I keep thinking about my menu and categories and wondering if they only make sense in my head. Should I reorganize?
Then I think about my Pinterest. Are my boards organized enough? Do the titles make sense? For some reason the compulsive organizing and planning doesn’t come through as much when I am organizing thoughts electronically. Having a baby has certainly not made me more organized- half the time I can’t even remember what day it is…
Everyday I go to the blog and my social media outlets and try and think of new ways to organize and update. Maybe this constant reorganization is why I suddenly feel so disorganized.
I have a new goal – to move to a new, more eco-friendly planning system; Moving away from paper and really trying to do everything electronically. I love technology, I just can’t quite seem to merge my love of technology with my love for planning my day and making lists. I want this to change and in an effort to move this change forward I recently signed-up for something called Evernote. We will see how that goes.
How do you stay organized? Any suggestions for my blog? Do you still like to use paper for writing and planning? I would love to hear what you have to say!