MaryKate:

I was thinking about my schedule for the week while driving home last night, and I thought organization and scheduling would be a great topic to open up for discussion on this blog. I used to make schedules for myself only for schoolwork, which left the rest of my week “free” (which meant I napped or hung out with friends). There’s nothing wrong with that kind of schedule but I need a bit of structure and a little push to accomplish all that I can in one day; otherwise, it’s too easy for me to fall into “Oh, I can do this tomorrow.” Inevitably, “tomorrow” changes into next week or next month. I can put things off and I can convince myself that it’s okay, but there is something valuable in being beholden to myself. If I treated myself with the same respect with which I treat my boss or someone who pays me to complete a task, I would get a lot more accomplished!

In order to realize what is important and what I want to accomplish in one day or one week, it is imperative to be organized. I always thought of myself as an organized person: I tend to be a bit obsessive about the way my pens and post-it notes are arranged on my desk and I have always lived and died by my planner. Obviously, that does not necessarily make me an organized person and I realized this fully when I started my job. An amazing amount of organizational skills and the ability to multi-task are required to do well in my position, and I am adapting each day. Recently, though, I have come to realize that maybe I haven’t been organized enough and also way too organized, both in equal measure. Let me explain. Since I graduated with my Masters, I’ve tried to keep a routine in my life and this was important especially when I was a jobseeker and picking up small, freelance jobs here and there. I had to get used to the fact that I was no longer a student and, in my mind, no longer allowed to lounge around at home with no direction as though I was on a break from classes. I had my future professional life on the line and a schedule had to be made to ensure that I spent a good part of my day networking and searching for job opportunities. The way that I used to organize myself, only by writing down when I had to go to work or when I had class, didn’t work for me anymore. I couldn’t stick to that specific, blocked-out time frame because I no longer had specific blocks of time set aside for work or job-searching. I had to become more organized in a different way. I had to realize that what I want to accomplish in a day doesn’t amount to just work; it includes time with family and friends, and time for myself, too.

In my mind, staying organized doesn’t just mean making a To-Do list and crossing off each task as it’s completed (though I think there’s value in that, too). It’s also about making more time for things that mean the most to you. I want to be healthy and productive, so waking up for work on time and eating breakfast as well as walking or going to the gym are major priorities for me. I want to do what I love, so I make time for writing this blog and doing other projects, as well as some down-time, like reading and listening to music. I want to keep in touch with family members and close friends, so I make sure to email or call my grandmother often, hang out with my cousin, and talk to close friends almost every day. Despite the fact that I have to make time for some of these activities in my busy life, I do not consider them to be chores; in fact, I find that looking at my plan for the week just reminds me that I will have time to do what I already love to do.

I think without this “organized schedule,” I could possibly just fall into a rut where I retreat within myself and go through the motions of my day. I think the difference between my new organized self and my old organized self is purpose. I want to engage with myself and with others, and in order to do that I have to seriously think about what I want to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

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