Simpler Organization Techniques

The simplification bug has hit me again. It’s like a constant thing in my life … sometimes just a dull ache, other times (like now) it’s a sharp, painfully compelling urge. For those of you who have delivered a child (or who have assisted with this process) it’s like the overwhelming urge to push at the end of the labor portion of bringing a new life into the world. It’s hard to explain and impossible to deny.

So, I’ve been looking… ok DROOLING… over at again. I also find myself looking up a slew of postings over on DIYPlanner (I just love that site!).

You see, whenever I decide to simplify, I find a way to convince myself that buying something really cool to help me accomplish that simplification is the ticket. I’m not saying buying a “clutter busting” book or a “how to organize your life” magazine or a great organizational tool isn’t helpful, but the absurdity of buying to eliminate clutter isn’t lost on me.

Besides, I think I do that to avoid that actual work of the simplification. At least I do that avoidance thing until that “push” urge to simplify reaches it’s highest crescendo.

I’ve been thinking about my index card files — the “everything” files I carried through high school and college and really trumped up when I reached my reporter and editor positions at the newspaper before Byron was born. They were the original versions of the 3×5 card “system” touted over on Levenger now. (It does make more sense to have them upright rather than length ways, however. That really is an improvement over my old system.)

With that double-drawer metal file monstrosity inherited from my mother’s attic (I saved it from the donation pile when I was in my early teens), I could lay my hands on any information I’d ever had on any company, any social or educational program, anyone, how I met them, their contact information, birthdays, spouses names, kids, my upcoming/completed projects, ideas, and creative musings. Sadly, I can’t even tell you what ever happened to that gem.

I can tell you it vanished as I became more computerized. I can tell you that I’ve never been as impressive without it as I was with it.

People would call me for some bit of information and they all thought I carried reams of obscurities in my noggin. Truth was, I carried it long enough to jot it down and file it. Whenever I looked for something in one place and didn’t find it, I added a cross-reference card (like the library’s system way back then) on where to find it.

In a matter of seconds, I could “lay my hands” on any information requested of me.

I love my gadgets. I really do. But I’m beginning to think that I need to find, or rather develop, a system that will blend the joys of the classical paper systems with the speed with which I can type and organize information in digital format.

Paperless isn’t really the answer for me, I think. A nice balance of the two things I enjoy most in my work life — high technology and low-tech paper and ink — is probably the best solution. So I’m thinking about redesigning my card file system, adding a customized and configured notebook, an neatly organized archive system, a great sumptuous leather cover and a pocket-sized holder for my note-cards for “on the go” brainstorming.

Now, I just need to develop that system. I think I’ll start working on that now. I’ll let you know how it progresses!