I'd go to pull out my sweater boots from my closet and find one mysteriously AWOL, even though they hadn't seen the light of day since last fall. (Still haven't found that second boot, by the way.) I'd never know which bills were due when, whose birthday party I was supposed to attend that coming weekend, and I'd have to call the doctor's office about three times before my appointment because I couldn't remember when I'd scheduled it. And I'd lost the convenient little reminder card they give you.
Disaster to the millionth degree.
It was also around this time that I decided to start writing seriously, and by seriously I mean everyday and with the intent of publishing my work. So, you know, adding in a few hours of creative work everyday was super helpful in my organization process.
I did this for a few years, and it never seemed like I could find balance. I'd write my heart out for a few weeks, and then look up from the end of a draft and notice that I had, like, no clean underwear. So then I'd do all the cleaning/laundry/organizing for a few weeks, and zero writing (but at least I had clean underwear). Rinse and repeat. It was...exhausting.
That's about the time I figured out this is an ass-backwards way of going about a creative kind of life. (Hey, I never said I was quick to catch on.)
I think that some people have this pre-programmed stereotype that organization and creativity are mutually exclusive. I mean, I know when I think of a writer or artist, I see them sitting at a desk littered with crumpled papers and half-empty Chinese cartons, angsting over a deadline in the middle of the night. But it totally doesn't have to be that way.
Creative people can also be organized people. And, dare I say, probably should be organized people.
Because here's the thing: our brains are pretty messy, and that's a good thing. When thoughts about epigenetics and pterodactyls and leftover cheesecake are rolling around in there, our brains have a chance to make connections between ideas that shouldn't really go together. And voila! A shiny new idea is born. But how can you relax and let the magic happen if you can't find a matching pair of socks, or you're constantly dodging the curveballs you keep throwing at yourself because you forgot about your kid's bake sale that's tomorrow and you have to cut your writing time to make freaking cookies at 1 AM?
|Here are my binders. I know, I have a problem.|
In my cooking binder, I keep grocery lists, a weekly and monthly meal plan, and a plan for my son's lunches. I also keep a calendar of special occasions coming up where I might be expected to make something. This act alone usually keeps the random trips to the grocery story in the middle of the week at bay, so that I can just do it all one time, once a week, and not waste any precious writing time running to get something stupid like a stick of butter so I can make those 1 AM bake sale cookies.
The finance binder is mostly just weekly and monthly budgets and receipt trackers, but I've recently included a section of every single password for every single website I've ever used since the beginning of time. Once again, this is so that everyone will leave me alone. You want to order something from the Amazon Prime account? Good for you. Just go find that binder, check the budget for the week, and then look up the password yourself. And don't bother me. Please.
I'm not going to lie, making all of this stuff was a pretty Herculean task at first. But once it's done, it's done, and all you have to do is maintain the binders once in awhile. Not only has this system saved my sanity, but also oodles of time. Honestly. After my kid goes to bed, I can escape and write for a few hours every night if I want. Hell, I can even read something for fun sometimes. I know, I know, a dream, right?
If you're interested in making your own organization system, a good place to get started is with Clean Mama Printables on Etsy. She makes all these handy-dandy organization kits for everything you can imagine. They're pretty cheap, and you can instantly download (and modify!) them. I've used them before and love them.
And remember, binders are a writer's best friend. xo.
You can find her on Twitter @: http://twitter.com/andeehannah