Friday, February 17, 2012

How do you get organized?

I have a lot going on at home -

1) I work from home as something resembling an attorney
2) I write from home as something resembling a novelist
3) I live at home as something resembling a wife
4) I occasionally sing and dance at home as something resembling a crazy person

As such, I find it a little difficult to stay organized. I accumulate a LOT of paper, much of which I digitize under password and then destroy, but it doesn't keep it from piling up. Just an FYI, it's true that lawyers tend to be after money. That's because being a lawyer is freaking expensive. Between leftover loans from law school and the bar exam, licensing fees, bar association fees, and subscriptions to all the crap we need  in order to stay informed about our particular areas of law (not to mention any other office overhead we need to maintain), I always marvel at anyone who manages to actually be profitable as an attorney. And it's no wonder that it's expensive to have all of that stuff - because everyone involved in the legal industry in this state is always sending me paper!

Then there's the writing. I thank NaNoWriMo on a daily basis for introducing me to Scrivener. I bought it the first time I participated in NaNo back in 2007 and haven't looked back. I think part of the reason I like to escape into noveling is because it's actually one area of my life that it's not too difficult to organize, and I keep it all on my computer (except the occasional map I draw out when I need to visualize something - I have no skill as a graphic artist on the computer; printer paper and a #2 pencil all the way, baby). If so inclined though, I do have the ability to scan those bits of paper and then stick them in Scrivener so I don't have to freak out if I lose track of my physical copies.

I'm also going to admit a dirty little secret: I kind of like being a little housewifey. I like cooking. I like cleaning. I don't really like doing laundry, but I'll do it, and I like the sense of accomplishment I feel afterwards. That is the one area where I don't feel completely scatterbrained and out of control - I know I can bring order and sense to my household without so much as batting an eyelash. 

The one place where my writing really suffers, though, is due to how I organize my time. I've been trying to make good use of the technology available to me - I use iCloud to synchronize my work calendar and my personal calendar. I bring my iPad everywhere so I can do small tasks while I'm stuck in waiting rooms. I maintain to-do lists, I have a whiteboard that lists all of my long- and short-term goals. But somehow, I have a hard time deciding what I'm really supposed to be doing at any given moment. 

Perhaps it's because I work from home, leading to a blending of my personal time and my work time. Even when I'm "off the clock," I feel a bit guilty for doing housework or writing at home. I've actually been contemplating going to the coffee shop nearby to write so I have some separation from my work space, except that kind of cuts into my personal time with my husband, and adds an extra step when I want to get up and start cleaning. I sometimes wonder if working from home is the best arrangement for me, when I have such a hard time distinguishing between how I spend my time. Sometimes, I literally stall out, and end up getting nothing done for a few hours while I try to decide what I should be doing. 

How do you compartmentalize your time? Do you maintain a rigorous schedule, and if so, do you manage to stick to it? 


  1. No rigorous schedule for me. I'm right-brained, so that would drive me crazy very quickly. I did have revelation when I was working with a cowriter. We were then submitting to agents, and one had requested a full. I'm thinking about how long we took with the book, and I told him that we needed to learn how to complete books in a year. And he pooh-poohed me, saying everything was negotiable, like he could just put off writing for six months and then negotiate with the agent for more time! I instantly had visions of me getting stuck trying to make the deadline because it was obvious he didn't put ANY priority on his writing. Everything else was more important than writing. That made me realize I needed to put priority on my writing. So I think it starts by making it important.

    1. I definitely agree with you - I've had the same experiences, which is why I think I find NaNoWriMo so effective. And not just with writing; if you have something invested in what you're doing, like if you are spending money on it, you are more likely to prioritize it (e.g. paying for a personal trainer to lose weight, taking a class, etc).

      Great insight, thank you!