Thursday, January 27, 2011

Organizing time


Every year at around this time, agendas go on sale at a deep discount, at least 50% or more. This is, of course, when my parsimonious self goes shopping for such things. I've realized that I like the idea of being organized more than actually being organized, but so far that hasn't stopped me from buying a cheap agenda every year.

I've experimented with different ways to stay organized in the past. I've tried marking up wall calenders, but always run out of space with those little squares. I've tried using appointment-book type agendas, but inevitably run out of room. Google Agenda is nice--I don't run out of room, but I can't see my to-do list at the same time, unless I've got my iGoogle page up, but even that's only a partial list. While I'm a fan of the ability to schedule things repeatedly in electronic agendas, I'm not a fan of the fact that I can't scribble on them.

Scribbles and to-do lists are the nexus of my life, the things around which order is established, so it's already hard to find agendas that leave adequate room to scribble and ponder and list. Add to this the fact that I organize things by project rather than by type of activity--i.e., I've got three freelance writing projects going on now, with three different goals for each this week, so rather than "writing" I'll put down "work on XXXXX" and "draft YYYY".

Fortunately, the Dutch seem to be equally compulsive about organizing things, and one of the godsends that I've discovered are the familie agendas. These agendas have space for each person in the family under one date. The one I bought yesterday has one week spread across two pages, so I can see the entire week when it's opened. It also has a space at the end of the week, for notes.

You're supposed to put down "Mam" and "Pop" and "Saskia" and "Jeroen" (or whatever you've named your kids) at the front of the week, and "voetbal" or "ballet" underneath the days of the week when that activity is supposed to take place. However, it works really well if you have separate projects, and it helps you break down your goals of the week into manageable pieces.

It's weird that there aren't more agendas like this. I know I can't be the only one who organizes her life by project.

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