Yes, Virginia, There is Such a Thing as Being Too Organized

Having badgered so many people into revealing how they plan, I figure I’d better post my own plan for the month before it gets too much further into December. I’m going to begin by showing you what my November plan looked like. I’m sure you won’t need to do more than glance at it to understand why it made me feel like a total loser, not even four days into it. There is certainly such a thing as being overscheduled and overorganized. Here it is:

poor plan

You know, I’d never ask someone who worked for me to adhere to a plan like that, one with so many requirements, so many teensy little boxes to be checked, so many chances to fail. And I’d never give anyone THAT many things to do in one day, and then follow it up with another day full of the same or more things. Nor would I tell them what a sorry loser they are when they flailed under that ambitious plan, which is sort of the tone I took with myself when I couldn’t keep up.

Why am I so mean to myself? Beats me. We are often so much harder on ourselves than we are on other people. Time to stop that. And yes, I’m talking to you, dear reader.

So, I began at the beginning: the starting point and, in fact, the reason planning exists, is because of goals. You have a goal, you need to get to it, so you need some kind of plan. This sort of thing is different from calendaring, which is a tool you can use when you plan, but it’s also a tool you can use just to make sure you get through your life without forgetting to pay your car insurance. Although a calendar can be — and alas often is– full of unpleasant things — a plan should be fun. In fact, if the route to the goal isn’t pleasurable and worthwhile, the whole thing will collapse. Therefore, I have banished the obsessive, daily list of too-many-things-to-do, and the mean talking to myself.

One of my important goals is to do meaningful work as a writer. I want to write well, and I want to have what I write go out into the world and entertain people and make them happy. My other important goal this month is to have a sane and happy holiday season.

I began my plan by sketching out a list of things that make for a good holiday — choosing gifts that let people know I’ve been thinking about them, giving a party, going to listen to music, and doing something for other people. Those are things that matter to me. Others might find them excrutiating. Good thing we all get to be us, and not each other!

The writing goal involves moving forward. Two pages a day. And this month, moving forward also means sending out some stories I’ve written, writing a non-fiction book proposal (which I might want to wait until January to do), proofing my novel carefully and for the last time and considering whether it needs a few more chapters, writing a synopsis, and then sending out queries to agents. I don’t know if I can do all those things this month, but I’m just going to get started. And that’s the innovation I’m most excited about (maybe it’s not an innovation — maybe a zillion people do this — but I’ve never thought of it before). I’m not going to make more than two days’ worth of things to do to get to those goals. I wrote up a list of things for Monday and Tuesday and here it is Tuesday, and they’re not all done. Instead of starting Wednesdsay with stuff undone, I’m not going to write another date on the list until I finish the ones that are there. When I do finish, then I’ll put another couple of days’ worth of stuff down. And I’ll take as long as I need to to finish that stuff.

I also made a no fly zone, which I’m quite happy about. No cards (I know Courtney loves cards — but I find I have no time to sleep if I write cards), no last minute party going, no stepping in and buying gifts that my husband has said he’ll buy. Oh, and the best of all: NO MAKING FOOD GIFTS. What a swamp that has been in years past, when I’ve made hot chocolate mix, and jam, and individual pound cakes and [shudder] a lot of complicated crap from Martha Stewart Living — all things that take a lot of time, and are never as much fun as I think they’ll be.

Here’s what the goal sketching looks like:

plan page 1

And here is my modest two days’ worth of stuff to do to get to those goals. And here it is hours to Wednesday and I’m not done. And I don’t feel like a bad person at all because there’s nothing waiting for me to do until I decide I’m ready to write down some more. And you know what? I might actually erase a couple of things I’ve discovered I don’t really want to do right now.

plan page 2

And now, more tagging: Show Us Your Plan!

Dani, whose work in progress always seems to be progressing so beautifully. (How do you read so many books?!)

aphra–I know she’s taking a little break for the month, but come January, maybe she will be planning up a storm.

Cole, who cracks me up and makes me think, and must have some spin on planning that’s going to do both.

bookie — do you and dani have the exact same system for reading a million books and writing so well about them? I want to know.

bora, fellow writer, fellow Berkeleyan, fellow luster-after-fabulous-korean-storage-containers. I’m sure she is a fabulous planner.

jade. How can she have her finger in so many pies? (In fact, go check out the pumpkin one she’s just made!)

carl has actually already answered this question, because he’s a Master Planner, but I’m tagging him anyway, because I can.

alison — always a lot on her plate, always a lot of projects in the air. I’d like to know how she keeps it all going.

sharon, at exlibris — how can someone who’s responsible for cats and daughters — six total — have such an organized and beautiful reading life?

George Simmers is a remarkable man, and his blog, Great War Fiction, is an incredibly rich source of information about the Great War. How he does it, I do not know. But I would like to!

And no, I am not done with this tagging thing, which I am finding incredibly fun. It’s just that my fingers are about to fall off.

Happy Planning All!


19 thoughts on “Yes, Virginia, There is Such a Thing as Being Too Organized

  1. Bloglily, Thanks for the link, and for the reminder to be kinder to ourselves. It’s so easy to load up our plates, but never sit down to simply enjoy a bite of life… Here’s wishing you and your kin the happiest of holidays this winter. Be sure to leave a little space in there for spontaneity. 😉


  2. This looks great. I love the Before and After photos. My gosh but you were an overorganized person, weren’t you?

    My problem never lies in the planning, it is the follow through, and that is why I’ve tweaked what I’ve done each year to continue to make it more fun, because I do enjoy it, and to also make it more realistic and give me a better chance at success. I’ll certainly accept the tag and will post more about this as we get closer to the end of the year.

    I have a feeling you are really going to enjoy this more focused and yet relaxed Christmas season.

  3. Pingback: Quilt Epiphany Blog » The plan and to-do list

  4. You are showing us all the way forward, dear Bloglily! I am every bit as guilty of whipping myself unnecessarily, and I love the way you’ve circumvented that temptation in your notebooks (which look beautiful). You are an inspiration to us all!

  5. litlove, As long as the way forward involves a lot of sitting around in front of the fire, drinking tea, and reading or writing, I’m there!

    Yes, Carl, I am turning over a new… well, you know. I am so looking forward to reading what you have to say on this subject. I think you are so right to emphasize what’s do-able, and what’s fun. Also, that’s such a smart thing to do — to remember what worked the year before, or the project before, and what didn’t, so you can repeat the good and discard the bad. I am learning a lot from you, and the many people who have given this a lot of thought, and am grateful to you for it!

    SW — Not TOO organized though! There has to be room for fun and spontaneity, as Jade says — (and thank you Jade for those good wishes. So far, it’s been a lovely month.)

  6. Your plan is beautiful – I love it! I have to say, I am thoroughly (so far) enjoying my approach to this month…if feels so much more relaxed and joyful than anything I’ve done before. And yes, I do love cards, but I know more and more people are forgoing them because they are so time-consuming. but I’ll keep writing mine until my fingers fall off!

  7. Now, Bloglily, your statement above regarding not making food presents out of Martha Steward Living just reconfirms me in my belief that Martha should be banned. Or at least her magazine. Don’t forget, she has Staff.

  8. I accidentally dropped by and found this.

    *blushes furiously at being found online at all*

    I don’t know if I’ll be planning up a storm in January, but I’ll certainly blog about how I plan. (Plan? Hah!)

    What stunning writing you have, my dear. I envy those neat italic hands.


  9. Tag you’re it…see openpalm for “December Plans”
    (and I don’t know how you put up with me, but thank you for doing so and for being and for giving us grace and thoughts and encouragement) –op

  10. I loved seeing your little checkboxes and lists. It reminds me of when I used to use a Franklin Planner (loved their wonderful papers–now I just use a Palm Treo) and it came with samples to show you how to set it up and those samples were written in a hand much like your own which I tried but could never replicate, though I did check off many little boxes.

  11. I actually am a planner now betuz of school. I must write it all down lest I loose bits that would be costly in the grade depot for moi.

    Alas, I am not funny right now. Sorry to disappoint. I am planning some things lately and it is funny you should mention….

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  13. I’ve shared a photo of my book journal–not as nice and neat as yours!! I am not a good planner, except when it comes to books, and then I am a bit obsessive. I’m not sure if it makes it easier to keep track of all the books I start (a bad habit I’ve gotten into–starting too many at once), or if it just feeds the bad habit!!

  14. Pingback: Are We having A laugh? « BOOKIE

  15. Ha Ha Bloglilly, I have finally responded to your question on my blog. I’m afraid I wasn’t much help in the organizational tips department. Read it and weep.

  16. Pingback: Failing to plan is much easier in the short term « Aphra Behn - danger of eclectic shock

  17. Pingback: Assorted plans, lists and reminders | Bookmouse

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