Whenever I imagined being a writer, I saw myself holed up in my special author’s study, sitting at my beloved old desk (I spent the summer of 1978 refinishing it as a project to get my mind off the fact I’d just graduated from college and didn’t have a job yet.) and hard at work. The Lava Lamp was on, Gregorian chants played in the background and I was writing great stuff--blockbuster, best selling material for sure.
That’s a fantasy. The study, the desk and the Lava Lamp are all there. But I seldom am.
Too many distractions. Every morning I start out with the best of intentions but more often than not, I get sidetracked. I do what I think is going to be a quick check of my email and Facebook---ten minutes max--and before I know it, I’ve spent four hours online with nothing to show for it.
And then there’s all the non-writing stuff I do. Tending the dogs, grocery shopping, going to the post office to mail out my husband’s recent Ebay sales, getting the propane tank filled, making doctor’s appointments, working on a Powerpoint presentation for the Friends of the Library annual meeting next week--My To Do lists go on forever.
Those To Do lists are scattered all over the house. Occasionally, I’ll find one where all the tasks have been completed, which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Then I go back to the current list with nothing crossed out.
I think writers all got a lot more work done when they weren’t able to watch TV on their typewriters. But even back in the day there was always something that beckoned you away from your writing project. Maybe a newspaper article you just had to finish. Or coffee with a friend.
Right now, I’m in the process of getting my latest book Reason for the Season out. All that’s left is to check the recently formatted file and it will go live. That’s my top priority and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it while I’m waiting in line at the post office.
For years, I clung to the belief that I would have plenty of time to get everything done on Thursday. Hundreds of Thursdays later, I’ve discarded that delusion. But I still wish it were true.
I am not alone in my disorganization. A Google search of “Getting organized” yields 29 million results. Articles offering 15 steps or 100 tips on how to bring order to your chaos. There’s even a magazine calledGetting Organized that comes out seasonally. The Fall issue is out now.
And Amazon has 23,000 books on how to improve your organizational skills. Like this one Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Or this one The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes. Or this one Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed
I am 58 years old and I know I’m not going to change. No self-help book, or list of 15 helpful tips, or Smartphone app is going to make much of a difference in getting things done.
In the end what works best for me is the old school To Do list hastily scribbled on a piece of scrap paper.
Even so, I’m still tempted to click on those lists of 15 steps to complete organization. You never know what might work.