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How do you origanize it all and stay on task?

I run in a bunch of different circles when it comes to my business, my family and my life. I'm an illustrator, an affiliate marketer, a designer, a coder, a crafter, a blogger, a webmaster, a business woman, a writer and sometimes a teacher. Not to mention the standard roles of life cycles like a mom, a wife, a sister, etc. So many directions really… how can I possibly stay organized and stay on task? I don't, I compartmentalize and then I organize my compartments mentally. Really that comes down to just becoming mental… all the time.

I find myself surrounded with projects both on the computer and on my desk and when I stop working to look up long enough to note the chaos around me, I get grumpy that I created such an unorganized mess. I get irritated that there is no one reminding me to pick up after myself let alone anyone reminding themselves to take care of any of their own things. Really how am I accomplishing anything? Sometimes the crazy environment is too much which then inspires me to start another project instead of focus on the one I was excited about last week.

Through it all I do finish things… all the time. Yet, there's got to be a better way.

I've heard all kinds of great ideas and even tried many of them. I can rationalize my way out of any stressful situation, so sticking with something that isn't a happy project is not something I do well. Instead I prefer to work on happy and let the rest grow mold by itself. I'll eventually come back to it… if I remember it was something I wanted to do. Which reminds me… I had a brilliant idea to start building an image database for all my art this week. I sat down to think about how I wanted it to work, how I wanted it to flow and what I would need to do to make it function for others to navigate easily.

I opened up my server account to set up a new database for the project only to realize not only did I already have a database ready to go, I'd already written 3/2 of the program I was dreaming up. It's like having your own personal fairy god mother, inside your head! Saved myself all kinds of headaches… having done the work already.

So then the reality sets in. How the heck do I keep myself organized enough to remember not only what I have to do and what I want to do… but what I've already done and what I need to remember I have?

A spreadsheet won't help me remember I need to eat lunch. A reminder service or calendar notes would become ridiculous if I enter every thought, idea and brainstorm I have. I can't get a notice to tell me I left the milk out because the phone rang so I went outside as I phone wandered throughout the conversation only to come back to the computer to start a project I left last week.

I've gone back after months of writing a program and not remembered writing it.. looking at the code like it's a foriegn language. I've created a piece of art and completely forgotten about it… created something similar and when I'm about to save it realize I made the first only because I named them the same and the computer won't allow the duplicate name.

Is my mind failing me? Some say it's kids. “you have a full house, you have young kids”. Yet I've seen plenty of other folks with kids appear to be sane and mentally with it. They appear to handle all of their directions just fine. So then again… how does one organize it all and then make it work?

It's frustrating to me because it seems I am gaining information by leaps and bounds on a continual basis, however it's more like getting hit with a big juice piece of chocolate cake.. only to have it slide down my head and land on the floor. How am I supposed to enjoy that fabulous-ness?

I have half an answer for myself. Instead of taking the time to organize, plan and keep up with myself, I just run with it. I get an idea, I can “see” how to accomplish it, and I literally take off. I don't stop to worry about the details of other things that aren't related and I don't make the time I should to organize in other corners. I work moment to moment whacking at my dream to-do list and what ends up happening is I finish a great project but turn around to see the path I've left behind… it's a mess. Like laundry on the floor that the dog decided to dig through.

So my goal is to make time to organize, put that on my to-do list and make it a priority. Make it a checkmark worthy task to organize various facets of my life and then be consistant about keeping up with it all.

What helps you stay organized with yourself, your family and your work?

Jen is Passionate about Creativity. She is the owner and "doodle in charge" of JGoode Designs, a Denver based design studio. She is an illustrator, mixed media artist and creative lifestyle blogger. Jen has been a creative professional since 1998 but says she's been an artist since she was old enough to eat glue.

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1 thought on “How do you origanize it all and stay on task?”

  1. What used to work for me when I was juggling various work projects as well as home & family was that I would make journal entries in a small sketchbook – writing the important words larger – as I started projects or as I worked on them.

    I wrote my priorities down too since I am a visual person needing to see them on paper. If I were doing it now, I would use post it notes so I could easily reorder them until I was happy with the order of them 🙂 Then I “trained” myself to pay attention to those priorities … feeding the kids was more important than sweeping the floor, putting the milk away was more important than answering the phone, etc …

    For example in your case … you could write

    * created DATABASE for ….
    * CODING program to do …
    * drawing PIGLET family cartoons
    * blog new database on 100DIRECTIONS
    * blog new piglets on JGOODE

    And I made a habit of leafing through this sketchbook before starting my work day while drinking a cup of coffee and getting “in the mood” for work if that makes sense IF I had not priority to accomplish that day.

    It was not stressful and it was fun to browse thru to see if what I already did captured my attention to do something more on a project when I did not already have something in the works … sometimes it would while other times it would point me in totally different directions … something I had forgotten to put down I wanted to do 🙂 or that I had not thought of originally at all.

    I would XXX through all the completed projects at that time too so I only had uncompeted ones to browse. I was doing this long before computers so for me it was the only way I could keep up with myself by the time computers came along.

    Once all the projects on a page were completed … I would rip out the page and throw it away because I was either using the result or it was on it’s way to elsewhere by then. I hardly ever ended up with more than two sketchbooks going at once that way until I started doing computer graphics.

    A friend told me that I was setting my memory up to remember by physically writing and that the act of writing it down like it was important to me was helpful to me.

    That journal sketchbook sitting on my desk looking at me in the morning was an invitation to me to open it and skim through it too 🙂 I still enjoy going through my sketchbook journals to see what I wrote or what I drew in them to jog my memory of some great ideas I had back then.

    One of those type notes from years ago is what set me off on my current learning project of learning to paint photographs – I wrote that I wished I was skilled enough to paint my daughter from a photo taken when she was 7 or 8 years old – I loved that picture of her. Now I can learn because of computers 😀

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