Organize to minimize stress
My life is constructed from different projects in varying stages of completion. Usually, the biggest project materializes itself as papers spread all over my desk and floors. Smaller projects wait quietly for their turn in folders and books piled in the corners. Oddly, I have found a rhythm to working in this way – a metaphor that parallels the clutter in my mind.
When I’m fully concentrating on a project, all the thoughts need to be out in the open for me to scrutinize, critique, and organize. Surprisingly, I can move through the mess, tagged by multi-colored post-it notes, very quickly and easily — weaving together my work into drafts and final reports. I don’t have to go hunting for files when it’s all there, and I have yellow notepads strewn all over, to capture errant thoughts that might surface as I brainstorm and write.
Then, when the final project is completed, I put it all away. It may take me several hours to clean up — sort through the small notes, discard what’s unneeded, while creating a digital, searchable record of my efforts. I take the time to scan and snap shot my work. It gets put into Evernote, and my database — everything in folders, everything tagged and backed-up. Meanwhile, I clear off my desk – papers filed away, desk wiped clean.
I take a moment to look at the now nearly empty desk, allowing myself a moment to feel extremely satisfied at a project done (even if it is only at a temporary stage). I breathe. Sometimes, I’ll walk away from my desk for a bit, then return to marvel at the open space. I just put away my hard work mentally, through this ritual.
Then, when it’s time to start the next project, I open my files, make the mess, and begin again.