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New Year is organised

Until now my New Year's resolution has been don't make New Year's resolutions.

A photo of a messy desk area, with cat sleeping on the floor in the sun

Now I'm feeling the need to do so, and the resolution is... be more organised.

I generally consider myself a very organised person. As a journalist and subeditor deadlines were not, as some say, guidelines, and I knew what needed to be done, who was doing it and when it needed to be done by, and I could reorganise quickly if a story fell through.

At home, I'm the uber organiser. My family has what is needed when it is needed. I write meal plans and shopping lists, and the calendar states who needs to be where when and with what.

A photograph of a neat reading area

I am the List Master. I have a list of what we've got everyone for birthdays and Christmas. My family came to ours for Christmas and I had lists for what we were cooking; what we needed; what we needed to buy; what we needed to do; and when it needed to be done by. It was a major logistical operation.

One thing I’ve realised recently, however, is that I'm not great at organising myself. I started studying this year and underestimated the work involved, so my writing time suffered. I did, however, make a spreadsheet of what was due when and what we were studying on each week. Next semester I've enrolled in subjects that include creative writing; hoping to kill two metaphoric birds with one stone (I under no circumstances condone killing birds – just ask my cats).

The shopping lists have not included my lunch, and when I’m in study/writing mode and not cooking mode I struggle to think of anything to whip up. I also enrolled twice in the same Writers Victoria course because I hadn't put 'enroll in course' on my to-do list.

A photograph of a neat and clear desk area

One member of my writing group finds she can't write during the school term because her teaching brain and writing brain are different – she needs a certain amount of chaos for her imagination to fire up. I think I’m the same. My self-organisation has suffered because I'm thinking about what to write, how to word it, and when to do it – even if I'm not at my computer. I need to compartmentalise the organisation and disorganisation in order to write, study, do this blog, submit manuscripts, update Twitter, be a parent, run a household and deal with anything else that comes up.

To further complicate things, I’m having spinal surgery in less than two weeks (I’ve had a run of bad health over the past decade and jokingly resolved last New Year’s that I wouldn’t have surgery in 2013. It turns out I just made it). I'll be out of action for up to six weeks, and won't be able to lift anything for six months. But I now have no excuse to fall behind in my reading and writing – I physically won't be able to do anything else!

So, in true List Master form, here are my organisational goals for next year:

  1. Clean my desk. Pack away last semester's notes and texts. Clear everything else from area. Find way to cat-proof area.

  2. Always have something on my desk to do the next day. If I sit down to a clear desk I tend to get distracted by shiny objects such as books, email and social media. And fall prey to the cats' efforts to distract me.

  3. USE my notepad. I have it, now it's time to write in it.

  4. Set out time to study and write – separately. Be flexible enough to vary depending on what's due when. But ALWAYS leave an average of one hour a day to write.

  5. Leave the house if I need to in order to complete step 4. Feel no guilt about practically living at the coffee shop and library.

  6. DO NOT check email constantly waiting for offers of publication. They will not email, they will call. Also DO NOT check phone constantly for missed calls offering publication.

  7. Limit non-writing computer time to 30 minutes total a day.

My last day of 2013 has been spent completing step 1. Other than cat-proofing – I think that’s an impossible task. The old study notes have been packed away, household bookshelves moved around so I actually have one, and the cats, for the moment at least, have vacated the area.

Resolution underway! Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you and your family have a year filled with good health, good things and good times.

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