Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Are We Organized Yet?

Organization skills - is it something you were born with, something you’ve mastered, or something that still eludes you?

Me, I fall into the last category.

There are people who seem like they have been organized all their lives. I have several friends that are like this. Even in high school, they were the ones who had everything ready before it was time and always had all the materials they need for any project.

I know people who are what I call “50/50” organized. They are the most organized person at work. They know where everything is, they have everything ready on time, and have their week’s activities planned out. But, when they get home they can’t find a thing.

Some people have been able to master the skills of organization for both work and home. They’ve learned how to be prepared, how to plan, and how to execute that plan.

Then there are those in the world like me -- unable to be organized for more than 10 minutes. I know I recently posted a schedule for January activities that gave the appearance of organization. But, you don't know how many different places I've had to write that schedule down so I don't forget something.

I have a day planner so I can keep track of the daily activities I need to do. I haven’t written anything down in it in at least three months. Tell you anything?

Don’t get me wrong. I write down everyday what I need to do and where I need to go. It’s just usually jotted down on a scrap piece of paper as the thoughts come to me.

I have another list I write daily (on a separate piece of paper) of what I need to pick up that day - groceries, horse feed, gasoline, etc.

I usually have another list that reminds me of the people I need to talk to that day pertaining to work.

You would think it would be so much easier on me to write all my lists in the day planner. It probably would, but I never seem to have it with me when I think of something I need to write down.

I know a lot of people have PDAs and Blackberries to keep organized. I’m slow about embracing modern technology. My cellphone is at least three or four years old, I can’t even buy a new battery for it so when the one I have quits taking a charge, I won’t have a choice but to upgrade to something else.

As a writer you have to be organized. You have to have all your facts together before you begin to write. You have to have a clear plan of what you want to write.

Without organization, a story would be just a bunch of words strung together with no clear meaning. Did that make sense?

Can an organized person create a character who is their complete opposite?

Which category do you fall into? Do you have any tips on organization to share? Can there be organization in the midst of clutter?


  1. I have to be organized because I have too many things going on at once...and because my memory is really, really bad.

    As far as reminders, I have lists, online calendars with reminders, a dayplanner with reminders, and a phone that reminds me of things. I've also instructed my friends that I need help remembering things.

    Organization--every piece of paper that comes into my house must immediately be dealt with. Otherwise, paper would take over my house! So if it's a note from my child's school, a bill coming in the mail, or a receipt that my husband brings in, I've got to address it immediately.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Being organized is definitely one of my strong suits (I think I was born that way - it's the German in me!) I can't stand clutter, my mind doesn't function well in a cluttered environment.

    I work off of one to do list (on paper - there's just something so satisfying to me about crossing off an item). I just got a Blackberry, but I don't think I'll use it as a calendar/organizer. I'm a visual person and I really need to be able to see my entire week in my day planner.

    I'm with Elizabeth on dealing with each piece of paper only once. And I find folders extremely helpful - both for papers, and online for e-mail, documents, etc.

    I don't write fiction at this point, but I think I'd probably have a very difficult time creating a character who's very disorganized - it would probably make me twitch!

  3. I think I was born with 1/2 organizational skills - I AM, but I get into trouble with those pieces of paper that Elizabeth refers to. I don't ALWAYS deal with them right away and I end up with a stack of paper that needs to be gone through, or I sort through them to find what I'm looking for. :(

    And I most definitely, without a doubt, need notes. I'm convinced this is part of getting older...I didn't always need notes! Shoot! What happened????

  4. Elizabeth, your handing of paperwork is my goal for the coming year. I am forever putting a bill or a letter to side thinking I'll file this in a minute or I'll take care of this. Before I know it, it has disappeared and three days later I might remember where I put it. I will have a center location for all paperwork to go this year!

    Ingrid, there is something satisfying about crossing off an item you've accomplished. It helps me to see my week at glance too.

    Crystal, I see you like me when it comes to papers being organized. We do tend to need more notes as we progress (not get older). I keep telling myself it's because we're just doing more than we use to do.

  5. Mason - It's funny you would mention organization. Like Elizabeth, I'm organized because I have to be. There's just too much going on in my life for me not to be organized. I'm especially organized with my computer files, because I have so much going on with my work and my writing that if I didn't organize things, I'd quickly lose every file I have.

    What's even more interesting about your post is your question about writing characters who are or aren't organized. My own protagonist is fairly organized, and I suppose that's at least in part because I am. The funny thing is, though, that both he and I are college professors, and there's that stereotype of the absent-minded professor. Hmmmmm...

  6. Margot, I must admit every time I hear someone is a professor for the briefest moment I think of Fred McMurray's character in the Absent Minded Professor. Even though I'm unorganized to a point, I'm not quite as bad as he was. I strive to be half as organized as you and Elizabeth. You both give me a goal to work toward.

  7. I've always been organized, even in college I was the one who got her work done early. I think I've slacked a bit, but I still keep a notepad by my desk where I write down things I need to do and then mark things off as they get done. I have an on-going grocery list that I organize so it's easier to zip through the grocery store. I use a Palm which is great because I can sync it with my computer. I have notebooks in my closet for different books or subjects.

    Good gracious, I'm totally boring! Aaakk.

    Straight From Hel

  8. Not boring at all, Helen. I like the idea of an on-going grocery list. You'll have to share more on that. A Palm would be helpful, but I'm just not good with technology.

  9. I'm pretty organized for the most part, although I do have some bizarre contradictions. At work the top of my desk looks ridiculous - I'm a piler and there are piles everywhere. No one would dare touch it. Inside the desk however, everything is in an organized container & every last item has a specific place.

  10. Jemi, I like the image of your desk. Now the top part I can understand. That's the way mine looks most of the time. However, the inside ... well we won't go there, we might get lost.

  11. I'm in the middle. I make lists and lists of my lists. But in other ways, chaos abounds. I usually know where things are. But I can't control what others do when they mess with my life. Then again, I guess that's what real life is all about.

  12. I have a list of all my lists so I don't forget where I put them all and why they are important, lol.

    Yeah, I use 'em, lists. With my case of "Half-Heimers" I can't navigate through a day with any amount of productivity without constant reminders of what I should be doing and where I should be going and why.

    The Old Silly

  13. I'm probably your 50/50 person. When it comes to work I am rigidly organised but home... well I can usually find something eventually. I like to think of it as my creative space.

  14. Carol, my lists turn into chaos. I guess if I didn't have chaos, I'd be lost I'm so use to it.

    Oh Marvin, I'll have to make a list of lists now.

    Cassandrajade, I've always heard the more cluttered a desk is, the more productive the owner is. At least it sounds good to me when I look at my desk.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.