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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, February 29

Gapers Block

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p / January 14, 2008 1:16 AM

ical. notes scribbled on tops of hands and palms. a dependable group of enablers. a CAN DO TCB ALWAYZ BE CLOSING attitude.

kate / January 14, 2008 1:19 AM

I'm not really that organized. I use the 'scheduler' feature on my cell phone so I know where to be and when. Aside from that, I have no idea where I put that bill/CD/kitten... I'll come across it eventually.

Phineas / January 14, 2008 8:22 AM

Who told you I stay organized?

Mo / January 14, 2008 8:23 AM

At work, MeetingMaker, an email folder To-Do list, and a thousand stickies all over my desk.

In my personal life, a paper calendar on the wall and email. Checking my gmail account is the one thing I consistently do several times a day, every single day. So if I need to remember something, I email myself a message with the thing I have to remember in the subject line. Then I leave it unread so it's bold and in my face until the that is done/past.

Val / January 14, 2008 8:27 AM

Lists. Lots and lots of lists. And a good calendar.

They say you know how organized someone is by how they order their closet...

snuh / January 14, 2008 8:28 AM

i don't.

Spook / January 14, 2008 8:47 AM

jezzz, who's thinking of these questions

spence / January 14, 2008 9:16 AM

I grew-up in a house of clutter. My mother, in particular, keeps everything and in no particular order. I've developed these same habits. So, I've never known what it's like to be organized in any way, shape, or form. Physically (or mentally for that matter). I've tried the planner, but I usually end up using it for 3-4 days and then lose it in the piles clutter, haha.

IGO / January 14, 2008 9:18 AM

Electronic bill pay. If you are not doing it, you should start now! It really makes a huge difference.

anne / January 14, 2008 10:11 AM

I bought a small filing cabinet a few years ago, and just sitting down and opening my junk mail more often and then filing papers in their proper places (as opposed to the "pile system" I've tried for years) really helps. I use electronic bill pay too, and have a couple of reminder post-its on my main calendar at work that I move from month to month to remind me that the particular utilities, etc. are being debited.

Pedro / January 14, 2008 10:21 AM

I outsource to India

milena / January 14, 2008 11:39 AM

i dont have a blackberry or pda so i still use a paper daily planner, like the ones i used when i was a student.

one major tip i learned a long time ago, is if you arent going to put something away or get to it right away, at least put stuff in the same place (ie. bills, paperwork on top of desk, dirty clothes in one pile, not all over)

another trick that helps me stay organized is i keep my cell phone in my bag and when i go home, i plug it into the charger and put it right back in my bag, that way its always in the same place

annie / January 14, 2008 11:48 AM

I don't either. I'm not one for pda's or crapberries so I have a trusty pocket pal for work related stuff and personal stuff is always up in the air. My mom reminds me of lots. MO, I like that e-mail idea, might steal that one. I feel terrible using post-its, so I try not to. But is the best invention ever for those of us that forget to pay bills. They send e-mail reminders. Setting it up is a bitch, but it's worth it.

jennifer / January 14, 2008 1:21 PM

I use ical for classes, meetings, yoga classes, and big time events (i.e. weddings, trips, paper deadlines).

I have a filing cabinet for my bank statements, loan papers, bills, and warranties.

anything in between gets caught in the steel trap that is my brain. honestly, I remember things all too well. this is a good thing sometimes, but can be a bad thing when it causes anxiety (which it does all too often.)

Carrie / January 14, 2008 2:06 PM

Work- I always write my to-do list before I leave for the day/weekend. It's nice to put a line through the "done" stuff and it helps ensure that I haven't forgotten anything. If I set reminders, I usually snooze them too much, so a good old fashioned notebook does it for me.

Home- I hang my bills on the fridge and move them to the "done" pile once I've paid them. Eventually those will get filed. The rest of my house is pretty organized- ask my sister what happens if someone knocks over my magazine pile.

tortor / January 14, 2008 2:51 PM

work: sticky notes and a big trusty legal pad with lists only i can understand

life: an old, high-school-style assignment notebook for the important stuff

home: nylon bins each have their own specific mess, bills get paid as soon as they come out of the mailbox, and i use stickies on my mac for other important things

Andrew / January 14, 2008 3:24 PM

I've gotten better at using a planner as my responsibilities have diversified. When I had a single full-time job, everything went into our calendaring system (which I never looked at). But as a graduate student who teaches and has multiple admin and work responsibilities, everything has to go in the planner. I actually don't check it that often -- maybe once a week -- but I find the act of writing something down really cements it into my memory. Bills stay on my desk until I pay them electronically.

Tonic / January 14, 2008 3:26 PM

I put little Post-It notes all over my body and pull them off to remind me what to do, a la Ray Rayner.

But seriously, I just try to remember stuff and keep stuff in a general order. That iCal stuff doesn't do me any good because I don't remember to check then in the morning in the first place.

Alex / January 14, 2008 7:25 PM

My dear husband and I recently started with cos we got tired of having to ask each other what we're supposed to be doing, where are you, what nights are free etc. We used to have a big paper calendar, unwieldy and can't view it at work (but more fun because you could doodle).
The other trick for household organization (and sanity) is get rid of stuff that's broken, obsolete or you never use. You don't miss it.

taj / January 14, 2008 7:41 PM

i like old fashioned paper planners..i start off the year right and then i start using stickies too...
don't use any electronical stuff, even thought i'm on computer all the time. except emails- i leave them unread or just save them in general.
i need tactile notes. i do remember things pretty well too. yes electronic bills are great. i wish i can pay my rent that way too...and hangin folders...but there's always a stash that needs to be filed..i hate all this paper trail...

Steven / January 14, 2008 9:55 PM

I don't. I just make sure I stay employed and there's food and water in the dog's bowls. Everything else doesn't matter.

LD / January 15, 2008 1:09 AM

I have this great little book "How to Clear Your Clutter" by Karen changed my life and I've re-read it several times. It teaches you how to clear all the clutter in your life. It's in the Feng Shui section at the bookstore...I'm not really into that part of it, but the clutter part we can all use!

I like to periodically purge unwanted stuff from my house. I look at the item and I use it or love it? if neither...I get rid of it!

Also, it's bad energy to have piles of things on the least make a pile on a table or desk. And always leave some room on your bookshelf for new knowledge.

JD / January 15, 2008 1:49 AM


Mateo / January 15, 2008 8:34 AM

Post its, post its, everywhere. I also make lists, handwritten, and carry them with me. I tried using a PDA I got as a gift, I found paging through menus and passwords and whatnot onerous. A piece of paper is much more efficient for me.

I just started something new the other day that I saw in the movie Barcelona (in wqhich they make fun of doing this). The idea is to put a big dot in the cornet of every piece of paer or report or whatever you are handed. If you keep on looking at things with a million dots on them, you know you could be more efficient.

Mikey / January 15, 2008 9:11 AM

It's in the Feng Shui section at the bookstore...I'm not really into that part of it, but the clutter part we can all use!

And then...

Also, it's bad energy to have piles of things on the floor...

Perhaps the Feng Shui aspect of it rubbed off on you a little more than you first thought?

Josh / January 15, 2008 10:29 AM

Just having the discipline to abstain from laying on the couch all day is enough. Work, work, work...and it'll get done sooner or later.

R / January 15, 2008 2:41 PM

An old school wall calendar. Writing appointments out by hand makes me remember them better

printdude / January 15, 2008 4:59 PM

I use the floor a lot.
Mainly beacuse all available spaces within arms reach are already full.
When the floor gets full, I fill boxes, then cart those to the basement for easy reference.

Then I start again.

Brandy / January 15, 2008 7:34 PM

I'll gleefully admit I *am* organized. One paper calendar. Color coded paper to tame the paper tiger (i.e. green for all my client info, red for one project). Ideas on index cards in a card catalog drawer.

A single place for everything. BUT I am also a slob, so my trick is putting things in their place.

Julie Morgenstern's "Organizing from the Inside Out" has that really good model of a kindergarten classroom. All the stuff for one activity in one place. That helped a lot.

Tom Cruise / January 15, 2008 8:47 PM


shermann6 / January 16, 2008 8:46 AM

I never use post-its

put everything on my outlook calendar

and save every e-mail

Spook / January 16, 2008 10:13 AM

Quantonamo Bay

samb / January 16, 2008 11:23 AM

i let go of things that don't matter. it's surprising how many things aren't actually important.

Sarah / January 16, 2008 11:38 AM

I use 37 Signals' Backpackit to keep myself organized. You can add to-do lists, notes, photo galleries to pages, so I have a page for every project I'm working on at work, a page for addresses, I had a page for my Christmas list, which I shared with my mom... Their calendar works with iCal and you can send yourself reminders to your mobile phone. It's keen.

Outside of that I have a good filing system - there's a book called "Get a Financial Life: A Guide to Personal Finance in your 20s and 30s" which has guidelines on how long to keep bills and other documents.

I try to deal with mail and clutter once a week. Bills go in a designated spot. Sometimes clutter goes in boxes, so the clutter still exists, but it looks a lot better than if it were laying out.

Andrew / January 16, 2008 12:32 PM

I have a notebook I keep in my back pocket that I draw my own little week planner and write down to-do lists in. That and a calendar at 30boxes keep me as organized as I'll likely eve be.

T. Bickle / January 16, 2008 12:59 PM

Travis Bickle: I should get one of those signs that says "One of these days I'm gonna get organezized".
Betsy: You mean organized?
Travis Bickle: Organezized. Organezized. It's a joke. O-R-G-A-N-E-Z-I-Z-E-D...
Betsy: Oh, you mean organezized. Like those little signs they have in offices that says, "Thimk"?

ramsin / January 16, 2008 2:19 PM

Saul Alinsky.

T / January 16, 2008 4:10 PM

I use everything once, throw it away, and buy new stuff. Thanks China.

Cracken / January 16, 2008 7:50 PM

Chandler's. Get a new one every summer.

charlie / January 16, 2008 10:20 PM


Andrew / January 17, 2008 11:19 AM

Man, I remember Chandler's from high school. I didn't realize they still made them.

porgy / January 17, 2008 2:16 PM

post it notes?
doesn't that make your drawers a little sticky.
Go "Chelv"

Sara / January 21, 2008 10:19 AM

I love checking boxes. It's probably borderline compulsive. I've even been known to do something, THEN write it in my planner, make an empty box, and check it.

I use a Moleskine Weekly Diary. Lovely paper, college-ruled, plenty of room for daily to-dos. It mostly manages my social life, but also the class I teach, my small business, and all my wedding planning.

For shared schedules online, my boyfriend and I recently switched from 30boxes to Gcal.

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