Tuesday, July 29, 2008

getting things done

Have I mentioned before that I'm an organisation freak?

Ahh, I can here the scoffing from everyone who knows me. I'm sure my mother just swallowed her dinner the wrong way and every housemate I've ever had just squirted beer out their nostrils. For I am RENOWNED as a messy person.

But my messiness always had a system: if I put something down somewhere I knew where it was and could always find it again at a moments notice. I had housemates who would pack everything away neatly into boxes, and then spend 20min searching for an item while I would reach into any pile and produce it instantly. It was an organisation system that worked because I was in complete control of it.

Then I moved in with DrH and have spent most of the last six years looking for things that he's moved around. The number one rule of co-existence with me is DON'T TOUCH MY SHIT, and what's the one rule that NEVER gets followed?

So seeing as my tried-and-true, worked-perfectly-for-twenty-five-years system is down the drain, I've been searching for something else. And everytime I've failed to find that perfect system which will have me completely organised and cannot be broken by a husband moving a stack of my papers.

It must be perfect. If it isn't I can't even start using it, and so there I sit, stuck and disorganised and going quietly insane.

So I've tried this geek-god David Allen's Getting Things Done and you know what? It STILL isn't perfect. It breaks to easily, the system is brittle and can't handle not being maintained with constant high attention. I like the concept of it and I've brought in various tools from it, but as a whole it doesn't work great with my personality. It's too many rules and structures and... that's something I then rebel against. Even when they're the rules I'VE set for myself.

So I'm still stuck. Anyone know anything better than GTD?


Carpet said...

As a fellow messily organised person myself, I can recommend something better than GTD. It's a new book called 'Leave My Shit Alone, I Know What I'm Doing, My System works So Piss Off!' The only thing is you have to write it yourself. - Good luck.
(But then again I'm not married.)

Dr. J said...

You know I've tried that one. Surprisingly, it doesn't work well when there's someone else in the house who wants to sit on the couch. I offered the floor - there are whole METRES there that are free - but he wasn't having any of it.

Stone Free said...

Dr J, ahhhh, memories of Rosanna Rd come flooding back..ha ha ha. The mountain of dishes, the paper, the rats, three weeks worth of dirty clothes strewn across the floor. If you want something to hide papers and shit in, can I suggest an ex-office filing cabinet. As un-pretty as they are, functionality is their prime purpose and you can be amazed at the sheer amount of crap they can hold. You can even develop you own filing system so you can lock away your organised mayhem.

Otherwise use the 12 month rule...if you haven't needed it for a year, get. rid. of. it.

Or sell it.

Dr. J said...

Yes Indeed. that house was the culmination of three messy housemates all at once. Although I don't remember any rats except my pet ones and plenty of huntsmen.

Actually we've done really well at the decluttering of stuff and chucking things that aren't used. Sold 400€ worth of stuff at a flea market last year and most we were selling at 1€ just to get rid of it. It's hard to believe how much crap I have now considering I came over nine years ago with only two bags and a box of books.

Anonymous said...

Dr J,
Can I remind you that there are at least 15 boxes of crap dating back to your pre teen years in my garage!!!! As well as the 2 bags of clothes etc, that wouldn't fit in your suitcase the last time you were home. Can I use that 12 month rule, or should I book your a stand at the Barwon Valley Sunday Market in December!!!!!!!!! I'm still smiling!!!!

--elf-- said...

I came over from Sciencewomen--I could really relate to this post! I've finally started developing a bit of a filing system which works for me because one feature of my personality is extreme repeatability. I just think to myself "if I were filing that now, where would I put it?" and sure enough, that's exactly where I put it.

Another critical piece of the puzzle was that I also got fed up with being so messy, and when I decided to go for a cleaner house, it turned out I had to learn a bit about messiness. Was I messy because I was lazy? For me, it turned out that a lot of my mess were "technical errors"--the item in question actually had no home to go to . This could be too much stuff, too little appropriate storage place, or both, but whatever it was, that was actually the first step in dealing with the piles.

My final problem is that I tend to have "out of sight, out of mind" amnesia, which meant if I didn't leave bills-to-be-paid in the middle of the table, I'd forget they even existed and never pay them. I don't have a perfect solution to this yet, although I developed the habit of just dealing with things immediately (and filing them immediately) and it's definitely taken care of a lot of it!