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2 May 2008 / Julie

How do you stay organized?

Organization, for me, seems to be one of those things that morphs, changes, and never really settles in to a nice Zen state that crackles and hums with calmness and wonder. But i want it to…

My Organizational History

In high school the school-printed an “agenda” book w/ school policies, handy conversions, school closing information, and at 8″ x 11″ it had a week per page and plenty of room to write all my assignments and after school activities. I remember having a lot to do in high school, but it was all related so it was easy to remember. Life was simple back then. ;-)

In college and for a few yrs after, I had a paper calendar, 2 pgs/week, were my ToDos and appts lived. The book was small enough to fit in a small bag, or hook it into a binder, or whatnot but had enough space for most of what i needed to do. I used post-its to supplement (if it was a task or appt that might move) and at that period in time, i had no devices to sync to or anything digital. This was my guide that made sure i did what i needed to and it worked so well i used it for 4+ years. (I may have had a Yahoo! calendar somewhere during this time, but it was mostly for birthdays and holidays.)

Grad school was where i really started using paper + digital to keep myself organized. I started using G-cal while keeping my paper book (the same type i had in college) for both tasks and appts. I manually synced both but inevitably the digital calendar was missing information.

April 2007 i bought a wirebound, page a day, Franklin Covey and started using that- i had found that my previous datebook didn’t have enough space. It worked mostly, but was hugemungously thick and annoying.

Jun 2007 i bought myself a Palm Treo to be able to access my work email remotely and started using the task lists, note area, and calendar exclusively.

When my work migrated to an MS Exchange Server it was easy to sync my phone and Outlook, but the problem was my phone had a problem and wouldn’t do it right. Plus, it like deleting data randomly. Plus, I was finding it hard to figure out how to keep seperate my personal and work contacts and calendar items in work outlook. So before i got a new Treo, i manually backed up my calendar to my long-ignored gcal and started using that exclusively.

Now i’m really having trouble. Currently I have a ToDoist.com acct (which i’ve been ignoring for my paper list the last few weeks), i have 4 calendars on Gcal- the primary of which is my personal, so i can’t use their Outlook sync bc i don’t need my personal items on my work calendar… (why don’t they let you change which cal is primary? seems simple enough to me)… and i’m looking into going totally paper again (which i dont really want to do) I always have my phone w/ me but instead of using it’s calendar feature, i use the internet to access gcal mobile- which only ever gives you 4 days at a time and doesn’t let you choose which calendars you can look at (whichever was the last you had “turned on” on your comp seems to be the ones that will show on mobile).

How do i keep my work outlook (which i currently ignore), gcals, lists, and ubiquitous device synced? No idea.

Things i like:

  • I like having things with me- its easier to run into someone and answer a question or plan a meeting right there on the spot rather than saying, “i’ll email you dates” which just adds another thing i have to do. And the smaller things are, the more i keep them with me.
  • Pink highlighters. My first job as an artist in a kids personalization store taught me this trick. Every time a job got done, it got highlighted. That way, we knew it was done, but could always read the details later if there was a discrepancy. There might be nothing more satisfying to me than seeing an entirely highlighted list (okay, maybe the highlighting itself). I might be holding tight to paper-tracking because highlighting is more satisfying to me than clicking a check box on the computer.

How do you guys stay organized and on track?

Please share- I really would like to know how you keep track of things. comment on this post or email me directly at julie dot strange at gmail dot com. Thanks!!

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