It’s about 2:30 PM, and my alarm telling me it’s time to write my blog post went off at 11 AM. What kept me from writing?
To answer that, I have to go back to grade school. I was a good student (read: nerd). I almost always finished my assignments in class, understood what the teacher explained the first time through, and later ended up explaining assignments or concepts to my fellow students. But I remember times when the teacher would give us worksheets to keep us busy while she graded papers or filled out reports. For some students this was a genuine opportunity to get more practice with multiplication skills or identifying parts of speech, but for me, it was just something to keep me busy – busy work.
Fast forward to today, and I’m still doing busy work. Instead of doing things that will earn me money, I’m checking emails, and following my twitter followers. These are things that need to be done, but they are not my highest priorities. They are the low priority items that keep me busy, and make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. At the end of the day, though, they will have kept me from checking the bigger tasks off my to-do list.
While I do have bursts of efficiency from time to time, more of my life seems taken up by tasks that “shouldn’t” take me that long to do. Part of this is because I procrasinate, and little jobs turn into really big jobs. Like the box of papers sitting next to my desk. If I just filed each bill and paper as it came in and was dealt with, it would be a series of little jobs that only take a little time. Instead, I now have a monster job that I continue to avoid because tackling it now means taking most of an afternoon, and most days I have a whole lot of other busy work to do.
I haven’t yet found an organization system that works for me. Or, to be totally honest, I haven’t found one that I am willing to stick with. I’ll be good for a while, and then I give myself a “little break”, and sure enough, I fall out of the habit. Whenever I’m doing repetitive, organizational tasks, I start thinking about all the other things that need to get done. Like the sewing projects I have on the go, or putting away the laundry, or reading more of the books on my stack, or writing blog posts for while I’m away. I end up leaving a trail of half-finished jobs behind me as I flit from one to another.
So I ask your input. How do you stay organized? How do you keep the busy work from building up? What method do you use to prioritze your tasks?