Sunday, 19 December 2010

My new best friend

By Aurora from Island Dreaming

I have always had a thing for brand new stationery; indeed I was delighted, aged four, when I came down on Christmas morning to find an executive desk and chair set with all the (admittedly plastic and cartoon animal themed) accessories, filing drawers, blank papers and new pens a 4 year old could possibly want. I loved filing, I loved writing notes and memos, I loved taking telephone messages and writing to-do lists. I have retained my early love for stationery; but none of the organisational drive that keeps piles of paper and deadlines in check.

If my friends were to describe me I guarantee the first words out of their mouths would not be ‘punctual’, ‘organised’, ‘remembers birthdays’ or ‘excellent project management skills’. Whilst these are not the qualities I would necessarily want to be most remembered for; my ambivalence to planning and time management have probably slowed my progress towards to my simple living goals over the past few years. Last year, the garden had a separate journal all to itself which now sits on a shelf gathering dust.  At the same time I had a tiny pocket diary for appointments that spent most of its time at the back of a drawer; and a fistful of scrap paper with important dates and reminders stuffed at the bottom of my handbag and coat pockets.

The ability to survey your immediate and distant future and decide what you want from it is a useful skill in any walk of life. Being able to plan the steps to get there is half the battle of completing them. I am starting small; and more importantly immediately, as delaying until new years resolution time rolls around means I have lost a fortnight of planning time and will probably give up too easily. My approach in 2011 is going to be low tech - a week-to-view diary and a biro, carried everywhere I go. In addition I am carrying a pad of sticky notes for adding to do lists, shopping lists and other temporary reminders. This year, I am filling in my gardening plans before 2011 begins; and sowing dates will sit scrawled next to crafting deadlines, meal plans, financial goal deadlines, birthdays and appointments, all of which will be overlaid with shopping lists and important notes. 

This sounds chaotic, but as I need prompting to remember to do the most basic tasks (like putting the recycling out on the right day), a very crowded diary for a few months is a price I am willing to pay for a smoother running life. Gradually, as I prompt myself and these actions become habits, I hope the pages will be freed up for more interesting scribblings. A single 'bible' of all the information I need to go about my day is a simple enough system that I hope even I can keep on top of.

Do you struggle to organise your time and projects or does it come naturally? Do you plan your time carefully, or does an unscheduled life suit you best?