Organizing Secrets of a Messy Entrepreneur
When your inner Fascist and your natural curiosity go to war, it can be hard to stay sane, let alone organized.
Written Jan 17, 2008, read 2136 times since then.
Something in me rebels when I impose perfect order on my fabulously messy existence. For one thing, my inner Fascist gets lose and pokes it's bony finger into corners of my life and psyche that do not need, do not want, and will not tolerate cleaning up. Perhaps if I were less of a control freak I would find the path of consistent and discipline organizing more congenial. As it is, I need another way.
My heart leaps with joy to think that all I need to do is write things down, sort them into urgent and important categories, and with discipline and focus, tame the bestiary that is my life so that it resembles Eden before the Fall. The problem is that after a couple days my Inner Fascist takes over. A few days or weeks of living under her iron fist and I’m tearing my hair at and yelling at the cat for getting food on the floor.
So, while I do make lists and assign priorities, I also follow a crooked path, a path that on a recent morning looked like this.
5:15 I wake up thinking I had overslept. (I usually get up at 6.) As I made tea for myself and coffee for my sleeping husband I realized my error and decided to stay up. After all, I was up.
Organizing Secret: Consider the possibility that what is already happening is just fine.
5:30 I check email as I half-listen to the radio news. For 45 minutes I putter, easing into my day, paying particular yet spacious attention to my always-present awareness that there was a great deal to do and that I did not (yet) know how I was going to do it.
Organizing Secret: Be curious about what you don't know yet rather than treating it like a problem.
6:00 I take coffee to my husband and crawl back into bed to snuggle, drink another cup of tea, and finish a magazine article. Somehow, I feel like a lot has been accomplished already.
6:30 I get up again, spend a few minutes stretching, then I hop on my exercise bike. I listened to a French language tape. Hey, 30 minutes of dumb-dumb French is more than no French at all. After exercising, I spend a few minutes in morning prayer and meditation. (And I do mean a few. Like five or ten, Or maybe it was three.)
7:30 I'm ready for a shower. It occurs to me to bring the vacuum upstairs with me, and I spend the next hour thoroughly cleaning our bedroom, closet, and bath. Who knew? In the midst of an insanely busy day, I dust, polish, change the bed. By the time I finished, I had the theme for a newsletter well in hand, and I felt like a queen who had time for anything, even her own housework.
Organizing Secret: When your insides are churning with anxiety over multiple commitments, create a space of order on the outside.
9:00 I sit down to work on the newsletter. First, I indulge in a few writerly dodges: checking email, reconfiguring my POP mailboxes (you don't want to know), reading a letter from my mom. I choose to believe that these are ways to approach writing and rather than ways to avoid it (many artists will recognize and understand this tactic). By 9:30 I am deep into not one, but two, articles.
Organizing Secret: Organizing is like choreography; it makes the most sense when it works with the rhythms as they unfold. That means being able to go in and out, back and forth between linear/direct modes of planning and organic/spontaneous ways of choosing.
11:00: The newsletter is almost ready, at least a first draft. What next? It's time for the linear and orderly approach. I decide to clean my desk and work on my master list with pleasant anticipation. It won't take long, and I'll have time later this afternoon to review and revise the newsletter before sending it off to my assistant. By the time my niece arrives at 2 PM to plan our trip to Europe, I'm able to concentrate without battling the feeling that I ought to be doing something else.
Organizing Secret: Whatever mode you are in, it needs to respect your real experience. Whether you are operating spontaneously or imposing a structure, it makes no sense to ignore a newsletter deadline or to pretend it is Tuesday afternoon on Sunday morning.