Over the last few years, my life has changed a lot. While some of my usual organizational methods have remained useful, others no longer suit, leaving me in the process of finding the Goldilocks system. There are some things I think Help me to be More Organized, the subject of this week's Ten on Tuesday.
1. Saving documents. I am consistent in how I save my work. Letters are always saved "x name date". X=letter, name=recipient, date=when written. I save writing by "title, draft, version, date" (commas not allowed, of course). Classroom documents are saved by semester, class, doc title, date. These little consistencies make it easy for me to track my work, returning to earlier versions with little hassle.
2. Computer desktop folders. I get a little chill of fear when I see a desktop absolutely littered with documents. Creating a folder by project, activity, whatever makes sense, and placing all the documents in that folder help me to stay organized. And to avoid feeling overwhelmed when I turn on my computer.
3. Routines. The best routine I've ever started was to put my keys in the same place. Always. Every time. I impose that on Neal, and he laughs at me, but if he drops the keys on the counter, as soon as I see them, I pop them into the key basket. I never want to be that person searching for keys. They go in the same place in my purse, too.
4. Real folders. The trick is to make sure you use a system that makes sense to you. I have big subjects (Dogs, Warranties, etc.), and I also have folders for each of my short stories/articles. I keep folders for inspiring magazine images, too, though I'm using Pinterest far more than I'm ripping magazines apart.
5. Separate things by use. Spices that I use predominately for baking are on a different shelf than those I use for cooking.
6. Pretend to be a librarian. If like me you have lots of books (or cds or any other physical media), don't lump them all together. I have fiction and non-fiction on different bookshelves, and the non-fiction is further broken down. Short story collections are separate from fiction. Craft books have their own shelf, as do poetry and Classical literature. Shakespeare also has his own shelf--I have collected works, many of the Arden editions of individual plays, and critical books. Stop judging; I wrote my MA thesis about his work and can't let go of the texts I labored with for so long!
7. Sort the mail immediately. I don't linger with mail. If I'm going to read a magazine or catalog, it goes on the coffee table. Neal's mail is placed on his desk. Anything to which I need to respond goes on my desk. Recycling goes out the door to its new home, the blue bin. Piles of mail give me anxiety, so I deal with it right away.
8. Plan the week's menu. I was amused to recently see that another blogger has posted a menu-planning worksheet. It seems a bit overkill to me, but if you don't already have a system, I suppose it is useful. I try to grocery shop on Sundays during the semester. While I'm having my morning coffee, I go through recipes and write up dinner menus for the week bearing in mind late days (I won't want to cook much) or evenings out (Neal fends for himself, usually with something on the grill). It makes grocery shopping easier and probably less expensive, and I don't have to think to hard about food for the rest of the week.
9. Don't trust your memory. Have a secure place for important documents. My ex-husband's filing system before we got married involved his record collection. I'm not even kidding. I would never trust myself to remember that my birth certificate was filed in Abbey Road because the Beatles started working on it not long after I was born.
10. Purge. Project 333 has been amazing for many reasons, and topmost is the purging of ill-fitting, worn-out, or simply not my style clothes that I have done. I am far more organized when I get dressed now, and I'm much more organized about what pieces I would like in order to make my wardrobe work even better. This weekend I purged a lot of fiber from my spinning stash, and the yarn stash is slated for the next big purge!
For all I have to say about organization, I'm still struggling with finding a way to merge my home calendar, work calendar, paper calendar, and electronic calendars in a way that will be most effective and efficient for me. If I figure it out, you'll be the first to know!
Meanwhile, what helps you to be more organized?