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Friday, November 22, 2013

Organize My Life (or Lateral Productivity)

When I don't feel like dealing with tough tasks, I often embark on a campaign to Organize My Life!
Organize My Life days make me feel like I'm being productive and solving problems when really I'm just avoiding them. 

Some of you may know that November is National Novel Writing Month. People who participate in NaNo try to write a 50,000 word (minimum) novel in 30 days. I attempted this in 2011 and lost, tried again in 2012 and succeeded. This year I wanted to succeed again so I'd be 2-1 in my NaNo world. 

I am typically a pantster when it comes to writing, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. But I found I cannot sustain 50K words that way. So I decided to Organize My (Writing) Life this month and laid out the scenes of my novel prior to the beginning of the project! Amazing. Yet I was still stressed. And when I felt stressed about my novel I would procrastinate be laterally productive.

Here are some recent Organize My Life projects:

I organized the sub-folders in my Writing folder in Mail. This made me feel better because I like to have my Inbox under 50 messages. Prior to this organization I was keeping query ideas in my Inbox until I finished them and newsletters in my Inbox until I had read them. Now when I have time to focus on those messages, I pop over to my handy folders.

This didn't really help my novel very much but some notes are now in the email folder associated with my novel. 

I can't take credit for this organization idea but I love it. It's also sort of in the category of a life hack. My wonderful husband has little interest in organizing, despite the fact that he is a Virgo like myself. But he came up with this new system of putting our utensils into the dishwasher tray. It is so easy now to unload the utensil tray. I love this Organize My Life solution. 

(He called it some kind of algorithm thing but I can't remember the name.)

This didn't help my novel either, but now when I do chores intend of writing, the chores take less time. So I can get back to writing. 

This file is called "Every Story I Have Ever Written." It will help me (I think) keep track of all the fiction works I've produced so I can work on them and prepare them for critique groups, writing contests, literary agents, or nosey friends. 

I also added a sheet for Essays, Articles (non-fiction) and Ideas. When an Idea is fully fleshed out and written it gets moved to the appropriate sheet. Soon I might add a column with word counts. I probably won't add a submission/rejection column though because that would be too complex. I keep that info in a small purple notebook. 

My current novel is right at the top of this file. Because it's so important for me to work on the novel that I stopped writing it to create this file. 

But then things got really tough with my novel. It just started to feel bad. So I tackled a huge project. 

 Our old front hall closet really needed some Organize My Life attention. Yes, right now, during NaNo.

Hats, gloves, headbands, running supplies, shoes, scarves, etc. were all being lost in shallow boxes. In order to find anything, my boys would just dump box contents all over the floor.

I ordered a bunch of new organizing supplies and tried them out.

This project truly has nothing at all to do with my novel. But I pass the hall closet as I go into my office to write. And it irks me. Maybe I'd write better if I wasn't irked!

This hanging shoe rack has been a great solution for kids' hats and gloves. Now they can find what they want without dumping everything else on the floor. 

But there's no room for my hats and gloves or my husband's. 

And it isn't quite hung on the wall. It's a little crooked and handing sideways off the wire shelf above it. I put it up temporarily to see if I liked it and since I do like it, now I want to repaint the inside closet wall before I hang this organizer. 

Now that I think about it more, this Organize My Life project is just like writing a novel during NaNo. Don't worry about fine-tuning things, just move forward and see how it goes. 

But my novel-in-progress is unsatisfactory and I'm disappointing myself with my own writing. And I can't stop thinking about how awful the plot line of my story hall closet really is. 

So before I repaint the walls and hang that organizer, I need to handle shoes and coats. 

We have these shoe cubbies but nobody actually puts their shoes in the little cubby that I've assigned each person. And now since I've stacked the cubbies to make room on the left hand wall for the hanging organizer, the hooks for coats are blocked. 

Just like my novel. Change one essential feature and the whole story unravels. 
Maybe the cubbies suck! Scrap that whole character! Shoes go on the ground!

I hated the thought of shoes jumbled on the ground.

So I hunted up these unused baskets. But my husband's shoes won't fit in the baskets. And my oldest's shoes barely fit. And the hanging coats cover up the baskets anyway. I don't have five matching baskets. 

This is truly a problem with no good solution. Perhaps I should write about a woman who focuses on her front hall closet instead of addressing the larger issues in her life and the world?  

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