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On Getting Organized and Breaking The Procrasti-cycle

This morning, JB introduced me to Inbox Zero. For those who’ve never heard of this concept, it’s pretty simple. You know how you most likely check your e-mail habitually, often when you don’t really need to, and how the e-mails pile on and on until you’ve got well over 100 or 1,000 (or if you’re like me, in some now well-abandoned accounts, 10,000) e-mails, just kind of floating in the gmail or yahoo or hotmail space? And it just gets to become too overwhelming to try and minimize the number and things just start to get…well…lost? The concept of inbox zero is to maintain an empty inbox, either by instantly replying or delegating the e-mails you’ve received, or deleting and/or archiving the rest. When was the last time you deleted an e-mail? When I watched the video for this talk, it made me realize I rarely if ever delete any e-mails. It’s a habit I lost after the days of AOL, really.

But why not delete them? It only takes a second. And then it might be easier to manage everything else. Sure, this talk was about e-mail, and it was helpful for that. But what about everything else in your life that might need organizing?

In short, it made me realize my life is a mess right now. It’s not a mess in a bad way, just…in a messy way. Both JB and I are notorious procrastinators. And sloppy, to boot. If we don’t have specific places for things (wastebaskets for trash, hampers and dressers for clothes, etc), we dump everything on the floor. And if we don’t have time to wash dishes, we end up with an overwhelming pile of dirty plates and glasses and utensils in the sink no one wants to look at. I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth. I’m pressed for time quite often and exhausted even more so. If I was messy pre-pregnancy, being pregnant has certainly given way to a new form of sloth.

This isn’t good, though. I don’t want to be this way, and I especially don’t want to be this messy and disorganized once the baby arrives. He deserves better.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-improvement and this concept really began to put the gears in motion in my head. Why DO I procrastinate so much? Why NOT do things that I’ve been meaning to (and wanting to) do today?

And then, in the afternoon, while eating way too many fried food items I’m ashamed about, I happened upon this movie:

yes_man

I remember when it first came out, I was afraid it would be too much like Liar Liar to really enjoy. But good ol’ Jim Carrey really does a great job, and the movie is just a lot of fun, with a great lesson thrown in. If you haven’t seen it, the basic premise is Jim goes to a seminar where he’s taught that saying YES to everything can open a lot of doors for you. Basically, you have to be open to new opportunities at every chance. He takes this the extra mile and decides he’s going to say yes to everything. Hilarity obviously ensues, but his life also changes, usually for the better, sometimes for the worse, but in the end it’s a real eye-opening experience for him. He also meets a lovely, free-spirited lady played by none other than Zooey Deschanel.

zooey_deschanel_yes_man

She runs a jogging group for photographers, plays in a band, paints, volunteers her time, etc. She’s not afraid to live and take chances. She’s everything Jim’s character wasn’t in the beginning but wants to be. And it kind of hit me how much I used to live life fearlessly, and how much I’ve cowered into myself these past few months. When JB and I first met, I was anything but shy. My job, though low paying, involved me doing everything from sales and giving tours to customer service and organizing and setting up events. I was a people person, and I loved it. I had tons of energy. After work, I always wanted to go out. I had an active social life. Yes, there were some time wasting activities involved (too much drinking at times), but I was still doing much more than I do now. These days, asides from being extra disorganized, I’m rarely if ever social. I don’t do much. It’s hard for me to get out there, and not just because I’m pregnant. After losing my Maggie, I just haven’t been the same person.

And that’s okay, really. It’s not that I need to be who I used to be. What I need, instead, is to evolve into an even better version of who I used to be and who I am now, with all my experiences.

Bear with me here, it all ties in together. The point is, Inbox Zero is just the starting point to getting to where I need to be. There are still so many things I want to/need to accomplish (finish a novel and publish it, become an active contributor to various sites/magazines/etc, become a better photographer, raise an awesome son, start my own business, learn how to wear make-up properly-hah) and they won’t happen unless I make them happen.

Right before writing this, I randomly happened upon this blog post by Alexandra Franzen and it had some good tips on how to be organized. This particular blogger doesn’t use Facebook (something I am on WAY TOO OFTEN), she minimizes her distractions by keeping her phone silent, and one thing that really caught my attention was this:

Every day, I try to do three things:

Something that generates money.
Something that generates positivity.
Something that’s purely generous.

Such simple ideas, but they could definitely make a difference in my life (and the lives of others).

Tomorrow, I’ve got a full work day ahead of me, including a meeting with my boss to discuss minimizing hours or working from home (doc’s orders to stay healthy for the baby). I don’t have too many daunting work-related tasks, so I think I’m going to plan out my need for organization, write my to-do list and cross it all off, and plan for the future.

Because if not now, when?

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