Organic Organization

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4 mins read
Editor’s Note: Jasper Thorsson shares some ideas and suggestions for personal organization. 
I’ve always just gotten by on cruise control when it comes to personal organization. I trust my strong contextual memory and my piles of notes, and use a few online tools to keep ever-updating files I can access everywhere–mostly for projects only half completed. As I’m becoming more professional, I’ve known that I’d need to get more organized ‘some day.’ Organization makes the difference between managing one or two projects at a time, and a dozen so if I want to grow my business, I need to grow first!
This December became that time: I was offered a preview of a five day challenge by Jordan Aspen to make my own planner. I’ve never used Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal method before, but I can see its appeal and why it works. Digital files don’t have the same pull at my memory, so often I’ll know I wrote something down but have to look at two or even three places it might be. An analog system is also more flexible, enabling drawings, charts, and more. This preview got me excited: It wasn’t a whole complex system I needed to learn, but a taste of simple and customizable organization for pouring my brimming mind out into, a place for each piece and category no matter how seasonal, temporary, or weird.
Her five-day challenge took me only about an hour to go through, so about twenty minutes a day over the course of a week. It reminded me strongly of the strengths of analog notation as opposed to digital, and dwells in it. I’ve always hated planners and booklets with assigned days and sections because my life isn’t always so clean and categorically defined. Some days I’m in a rush or plans fall through and I need to move things around, sometimes I just need a place to jot down a whole mess of ideas on a topic, or record an enlightening conversation with another professional or mentor. This is the first journal I’ve ever hoped would be able to do all these things. I can bite off as much or as little time as I am confident to plan out, and I can set things in the size of paper cubby-hole that I see fit–while leaving open pages for expansion or linking pages together in a custom index.
I believe the journal I will make–and my new year’s new organization–will succeed. I don’t have to learn something complicated, I get to make my own method. It’ll evolve, but I can’t get frustrated at wasted pages or space because I’m in control of the pages and ink! I am pumped that someone has finally discovered and shared an alternative to the same frustrating issues digital mockups have that day planners suffer from, an organic and self-focused organization that works for me. How fresh, and the challenge is free too! It is nice to do more than dream when looking at next year’s calendar, and the new me that will come. I can build it now.
What ways do you want to improve yourself in 2019? How have you begun laying the groundwork?

1 Comment

  1. I like David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” as an organizing principle… it is a system, there can be complexity but when you strip it back to what it’s supposed to be, it’s just a reminder that you have to make an active investment in each day from the beginning or life just happens and whisks by. Is what you’re doing now working you towards big(ger) picture goals or is it a distraction (distractions are fine as long as they don’t become habits).
    I like your idea here as paper is good for brainstorming and sorting out ideas. Once you’ve settled on what you’re going to do … all those projects pile up and… over the years, you need to return to lessons learned … “now how the heck did I… ?” or… better yet, Billy Bob the repairman who did work 18 years ago and did a crap job that you now have to UNdo… a few notes online with project titles, materials used, where they were bought goes a long ways.
    once you find a good method to a complex process or need information that’s where online access is useful… sifting through 2 decade old journals is not fun… even just sifting through household file folders for warranties and receipts is a complete PITA.
    I suppose it could all get EMP’d into oblivion but then…. we’re going to have much bigger problems if that happens and your bug out travois is probably not going to be loaded with all your paper notebooks of yesteryear either…

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