While I embrace certain aspects of our technological age (computers, the Internet, smart phones), other aspects leave me feeling distinctly annoyed.
Take electronic organizers.
Please. I don't want them in my life anymore.
For years, I happily used a mid-size DayPlanner that worked just great. After I had children, however, it seemed a bit cumbersome and weighed down the diaper bag, so I abandoned it except as an address book.
Mothers of infants and small children do not need DayPlanners. They only serve to remind the mothers of how out-of-control their lives are. Some mornings, it takes three hours just to get yourself and the kids dressed, fed, and out the door, what with the diaper blow-outs, spit-ups, tantrums, and loads of unexpected laundry to be started.
Five or six years ago, George gave me a Palm Pilot. He had noticed how cumbersome my DayPlanner was as an address book, so he thought a Palm would be handy. I welcomed the chance to get organized again since my baby wasn't a baby anymore. Perhaps my life could move back to its previously organized state.
At first, I thought I merely resisted change from a written planner to an electronic one, since I'm pretty much a Luddite at heart. Like Daisy encountering her first truck parked on the side of the road, I approached my Palm Pilot cautiously and woofed my unease at its tiny alien presence in my purse. Unlike Daisy, who now no longer balks at strange cars parked on our walking route, my Palm never felt natural as a scheduler.
It worked--and still works--great as an address book, though.
Then, I tried Windows' Email Scheduler, thinking I would check it every morning when I turned on my computer. Instead, I got annoyed when it popped up stuff that I had to click to dismiss. Clicking to get the calendar out of my way when I hadn't done the stuff on it seemed pointless and unhelpful. My computer doesn't go with me through the day, and being reminded about something in the morning still gave me ample opportunity to forget it.
And forget it I did. Since I started trying to get organized again, I have become convinced that childbirth sucked all the organization skills out of my brain, and with the start of perimenopause, that lack of organization got worse. The same woman who used to juggle dozens of projects at a time and even finished ahead of schedule on many of them suddenly couldn't remember her weekly volunteer schedule at the school library.
I had to do something to get control, and if a Palm and Windows couldn't help, perhaps a cell phone would. George and I bought smart phones in December, and the phone seemed a more sensible location for an organizer since I carry it with me most of the time and can reference it whenever I feel like it. I approached this organizer with optimism and enthusiasm.
Instead, I once again grew annoyed at having to dismiss stuff that I remembered, and despite the fact that the phone is with me most of the time, I simply couldn't remember to check it regularly throughout the day. Surely there is an app that works better than the one already on the phone--for instance, one that plays the theme from Rocky fifteen minutes before each scheduled appointment. But it feels like a gigantic waste of time to go looking for such an app when I already resent the phone as an organizer.
Every year, I buy an old-fashioned weekly planner at Barnes and Noble in early January. This planner sits with a pen by my bed, and each night I write down things that I want to remember about that day...funny stuff the boys say, milestone events, things I am grateful for. At the end of the year, I put the planner with all the memorabilia that I have collected for the year to scrapbook. It's a huge asset for scrapbook journaling because I can look up the exact date that we went to the Columbus Zoo or that Jack tasted a pancake without throwing up.
Problem is, I haven't done much scrapbooking in the past three years. In fact, I've done none, which means that I've slacked on filling those planners for the last year. This year's has very little written in it so far...which made me realize that it would be a perfect organizer.
That is, until my husband shared his organizational method with me, which is even better than my weekly planner and allows me to leave the weekly planner by my bed, thus sustaining the illusion that I'll get back to scrapbooking. Eventually.
Let me pause to share how surprised I was by his enthusiasm for helping me organize myself. You see, this is a man who's main organizational method seems to be "cover every flat surface you can find with your stuff so you can see everything and simultaneously drive your spouse insane." Remember this post?
George saw me putting information in the weekly planner and said, with enthusiasm, "Let me show you what I do!" He pulled out a monthly planner that has nice, big squares for each day of a month, as well as a bunch of blank lined pages following the calendar for notes, lists, and such. It's brilliant. A month at a glance. One place to keep a running to-do list. I embraced the simplicity of his method immediately.
He took me to Office Max yesterday to purchase one. My only complaint is that the only really good monthly planners--the ones without a bunch of superfluous and distracting stuff--are gray and boring. I've already stamped the cover of mine to make it a little less institutional looking. Stamping on plastic is a challenge, but at least George won't mistake his planner for mine.
I'm optimistic that this will work, that I will regain at least a modicum of control and not let so much slip through the cracks of my life. Time will tell if this method of organization will help me feel less scattered-brained and forgetful. I'll keep you posted.
Now it's your turn. What method do you use (if any!) to stay organized and on schedule?