I am a chronic list maker. My life consists of endless lists-of-things-to-do that quickly evolve into lists-of-things-I-mostly-didn’t-do, with one or two things ticked off. I read somewhere recently that people use lists to create an appearance of self-control to mask a deeper interior chaos. Personally, this anecdote rings painfully true – I have made disorganisation into an art form.
In short, I exist in a constant state of near-chaos. It’s only in the past six months or so that my chronic inability to do anything in a timely or organised manner has really started to affect me. Before then I lived in blissful ignorance of the fact that in endlessly running to catch up with myself, I was causing myself hideous amounts of stress. As a freelancer, it’s very easy to live without any form of routine or normality, and not realise that this is not doing yourself any favours. My work gets done on time, I meet my deadlines, my clients continue to commission me, thus things must be going along just fine. Right? Right??
Wrong. My work might get done on time, but it doesn’t get done in a way that brings any sense of relief or of being on top of things. And the stress from having no logical work routine has a knock-on effect on most other areas of my life. I am constantly scrabbling to find time to do things, constantly counting down to deadlines and frantically working all-nighters to meet them. I used to think that I needed pressure in my life to achieve anything. I’ve never been someone to plod away at things gradually – even as far back as school and university – I’d rather wait for inspiration to strike and then get things done in a blast of productivity, before falling into bed and nothingness until the last-possible-moment that the next thing has to be done. Working in this way might have ‘worked’ so far, but it means I am always half-panicked about what’s coming up, waking in the middle of the night to fret, and living in an almost permanent state of anxiety about getting things done on time.
What changed six months ago were two things: first, I got a puppy. Second, one of my clients significantly increased one of my contracts to make it a virtually full-time job. Both of these things are wonderful, but they absorb a LOT of time and energy, and leave very little time for procrastination – one of my most favourite pastimes. And what has become clear over the past six months, is that I cannot continue to function in this way. Sometimes stress reaches such a point that even when I don’t have anything to worry about, even when by some miracle the emails are all dealt with, the dog is walked and the workload under control, I still feel dreadfully panicked about what’s coming up, because I have zero routine. Absolutely zero. Nil. Nadda. I never have a point where I can draw a line under things and think, I’ve achieved something today, because there’s always so much more to do.
Does everyone feel like this to a certain extent? I feel like I spend my days running around, putting out spot fires while unbeknownst to be MY OWN HAIR IS ON FIRE, and somehow get things done in manner of a crazed lunatic. What I’m realising is that I don’t have to conduct my life in this manner. There is absolutely no reason that I can’t work to a regular routine and be one of those people who just get things done, gradually and effectively, rather than pissing around for two days when I know I have things to do, then getting them done in a mad, blind panic. No reason!
So, this January – call it a New Year’s Resolution if you must (I’m not) – I am setting into action a plan to bring some level of order and organisation into my life. I know that most people probably feel the same way I do when it comes to being organised – especially those with children (how do they do it?? Does someone throw then a parade at the end of each week in awe of their greatness? I can only assume so), so I decided to blog about it here, because being organised in one aspect of your life can only have a positive effect on the rest of it, which includes everything from your personal to financial life.
I’ll be publishing a series of posts, each one with a small task to do to help me manage my time better. Seems simple, but if you are anything like me you will know what a monumental impact this could have on my daily life. So if you too are feeling the strain this January, read along and let me know your plans for making things work a little more smoothly in 2012 in the comments below. And if you see me pissing about on Twitter, tell me to bugger off and do some work!
How are you getting organised for 2012?