I’m Testing 10 Organizational Strategies

I read other people’s blogs, and one blog that I’m particularly fond of is Rachel’s. She’s an editor, and on her blog, Freelancing to Freedom, she provides little nuggets of advice that reflect her experiences. In her latest post, “Ink Blotches“, she writes about using her diary to stay organized.

In teachers college you run into a lot of A-type personalities, and I’m definitely more of a B-type person. These people are organized, punctual, orderly, and driven. In a word, they’re crazy. They’ve got everything under control. Or, at least they seem to.

I’ll frustrate you if you have any sense of orderliness about you, but I’ve been trying to get myself more organized for about a month now. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been googling various keywords, reading some good and bad articles about organization, and asking friends for advice, all in an attempt to find strategies that’ll work for me. Then, Rachel writes a post about her diary, and the world comes full circle and I’m compelled to write my own tale about organization.

I don’t keep a diary, but I’ve tried. I’ve tried in earnest. I have beautiful Moleskine diaries from years past that are mostly empty. I like writing by hand and enjoy using a fine writing instrument, so a diary seems like the perfect solution. Admitting that it isn’t, was my first step toward change.

I really enjoy writing on a chalkboard. I like the gritty feeling you get when you run a piece of chalk against the board. And, how often do you get to write on a black canvas?
I really enjoy writing on a chalkboard. I like the gritty feeling you get when you run a piece of chalk against the board. And, how often do you get to write on a black canvas?

How I got through my undergrad with just a pad of paper, a clipboard, a wicked-awesome Lamy pen, and my memory is now all but a mystery. I need some serious help with organizing myself.

So, here for you, and in no particular order, are some strategies that I’m testing out to help me get organized.

1. A Binder

The binder I use has three rings, but in some parts of the world you can find binders with two rings. They keep loose-leaf sheets of paper together, in one place. You need a hole punch to use a binder properly.

2. Lists

I loathe lists. I hate them. They’re awful. They’re effective.

3. Calendar Applications

Currently, I’m using Apple’s Calendar app. It syncs across my iMac, MacBook, and iPhone (I do like Apple). If I have an internet connection, I can see the most up-to-date version of my schedule of activities. I set reminders, because I tend to forget. I don’t get many phone calls or text messages, so the application is effective in alerting me to what’s coming next.

4. Less-Than-Fine Writing Instruments

Pens that are cheaper cost less than pens that are more expensive. I’m less attached to these types of pens, than I am to my more precious pens, which means that my level of care wanes. Less care = less stress.

You can still find effective pens, at more affordable rates. I’m currently using the uni-ball Vision Needle. Sometimes, paper fibres work their way up the vent in the nib, but it’s not too bad.

5. Fasteners

Fasteners include items such as paper clips, staples, binder clips, tape,  and rubber bands. In conjunction with binders and bins, fasteners help me keep organized items further organized. Looking for page two is easier when it’s attached to page one.

6. A Chalkboard

A chalkboard, or blackboard, is great for jotting down ideas that you’ll only use once. They’re greener than paper, and more tangible than Word documents. Writing on a chalkboard brings me a sense of satisfaction.

7. Bins

Bins, or containers, keep loose items organized. I’ve started using bins for my socks, laundry money, and fruits and vegetables. ALL of my school supplies are now in bins. I now have a lot of bins.

8. The Cloud

The “Cloud”, as it is affectionately known, is the space in the ether that holds all of your digital information. Applications like Evernote, Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive keep all of your information – documents, calendars, email, etc. – stored and accessible in the cloud.

The cloud is great because all you need is an internet connection to get at your stuff. Most applications are multi-platform (you can use a computer, laptop, smartphone, tablet), so you don’t have to worry about how you get your Wi-Fi. Plus, many cloud-based applications allow you to edit your stuff in-app.

I should write a post about the specifics of how I’m tapping into the cloud.

9. Tidiness

Just having things in the right place is nice. When I was working in a restaurant, it was important to know where to go to get at a cloth. If the cloth wasn’t there, havoc would ensue. In life, not having to worry about where to go, and searching for hours to find something, is also nice.

10. iPhone

I used to be on the Android system. My propensity toward Apple makes the iPhone a much more effective tool for me. While it’s not as customizable as the Android system, Apple’s OS just works, well. Plus, it’s pretty.

Apple has done a good job of providing productivity tools with its OS, so you don’t need to search out tools. Of course, you can always test apps, and find the ones that work for you (many are free).

Through it all, the most important thing that I’m noticing is that austerity really is the key to organizational success. The K.I.S.S. philosophy works well, here.

I’ll tell you this: initially, it was a bitch-and-a-half to get myself organized. It took a lot of time, and real forward-thinking to imagine what tools I would need to help get and keep myself organized. Whether it was worth the time and effort, has yet to been seen.

But, no matter how organized you are, never forget to take time out of your day:

I’ll keep you posted. It’s already on my to-do list.

Dear reader, do you have any suggestions and/or advice to impart? I would really like to get as many opinions as possible on this issue. What keeps you organized?


2 Responses to “I’m Testing 10 Organizational Strategies”

  1. faultlessfinish Avatar

    Thank you so much for linking to my post! There really is no right or wrong way to stay organized – I confess I’m a bit obsessive, but my method keeps me in the realm of sanity. When to-do’s are flying around in my head or scattered throughout multiple devices, I tend to cave in on myself…

    But as you said, it’s so important to take time out of your day. As a friend of mine told me, schedule appointments with yourself and don’t break them!

    1. Bernard Avatar

      Hey Rachel, I wish I were more obsessive about staying organized! While there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for staying organized, I found that the internet provides little in the way of concrete solutions, which can be really useful when you’re just starting out.

      Yes, keep all appointments with yourself, and prioritize them.

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