Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Organization Man

Yes, observant reader, I’ve changed the header and layout, and if I can decipher the HTML code for my template, I might actually make the page look half decent, in about six years.

But enjoy the all-new photo of myself at rest, and take the poll!

In the era before the Internet, PDAs, cell phones, and iPods, I bought a Filofax in one of my many futile attempts to “get organized.” The chunk of plastic and paper collected dust following my few attempts to actually use it.

It was then that I’ve had my life’s major epiphany: in order to be organized, you have to be organized.

I had hoped that the Filofax would magically transform the mess then known as my life. The Filofax would help me with appointments, phone numbers, birthdays, and the other assorted minutiae that make up the grist of living.

It did not do much good, since I never entered my appointments and friends’ birthdays, while I barely consulted it for telephone numbers and addresses. In order for the Filofax to transform my life into a streamlined, efficient machine, I would have to do the things that would make my life into a streamlined, efficient machine – whether I owned a stupid $30 phonebook-calendar or not.

Party time

Several electronic devices and computer calendars later, I still struggle to keep appointments, remember birthdays, and generally keep organized. My desk is a testament to mounds of paper needing to be filed. Unfinished and un-started projects litter the roadway of my literary endeavors. Things are so bad that when everything is “organized,” I grow suspicious, for it means that I have spent my time in cleaning up rather than actually doing the tasks for which being organized would make such a snap.

Now, comes my worst nightmare.

I have about eight writing projects somewhere between larval and butterfly. They range from the “novel” to short stories to a non-fiction book to a magazine piece on outsourcing. Some of these projects are smashingly good ideas, if I say so myself, while others are limper than month-old lettuce. But deciding which ones I should pursue has proven more difficult than a chick-lit heroine deciding between a pair of Jimmy Choos and Malono Blahniks (or the uber-dick-lit hero choosing between Honey Ryder and Pussy Galore).

In the past, this would not have been an issue — I would have simply done all of them with various degrees of enthusiasm (and success). Things would have panned themselves out: I would drop one or two things completely, aggressively pursue one or two others, and hold the rest in limbo. Then, once I finished a story, I would try to get it published, contemplate suicide as the rejection notes piled up, then brush the dirt off my jacket and start anew.

You know what I’m going to say next: since Baby arrived, I have no time to engage in such narcissistic dallying, though dally I do. This is an organizational crisis for me, as I can’t decide what I should pursue in the limited minutes allotted to me when I’m not changing Baby, burping Baby, bathing Baby, taking Baby off Wife’s hands, wiping Baby’s spit off my face, etc.

Now, I know of Super Moms and Dads who manage to take care of their children’s (plural) basic needs, plus teach them Mandarin, cook vegan coc au vin, spend all their free time enriching their children’s lives, and then turn around and write 1,000 perfectly formed words a day. That is not going to be me. I am basically a zombie with about enough motivation to turn on the computer, and that’s it.

Unaware of his surroundings, he was then hit by a bus

I take it that success in this arena is a matter of prioritization. Define one’s goals. Create a plan. Conceptualize action steps. Move forward.

Or, to put it another way, stop wasting my time on stupid shit. Such as writing circular, self-pitying blog entries like the one you’ve just read, or changing the layout of a blog, such as the one you’re currently not enjoying. To thine own self be true.