Get Organized For Less Stress!


 One of my writing friends likes to say, "The dirty dishes never seem so important as when I am struggling to write." I know what she means -- when facing the blank page or empty Word document, or when I'm 200 words into my writing for the day and already feeling as empty as my car's gasoline tank, it seems like anything else would be more appealing than staying there in front of my computer screen typing or pressing my pen again and again to the notebook page. When that time comes, and the dirty dishes call, it is best to ignore them. Stay put. Butt-in-chair. Keep writing. In the writing manual Ron Carlson Writes a Story, he urges that this is when the magic happens -- when you push through the distractions and stay there in the story.

But, after my writing time is over for the day, I'm going to attack those dirty dishes. When I get home, instead of collapsing immediately on the couch, I'm going to take ten seconds to hang up my jacket, put away all the groceries, place my keys in that little dish by the door so I can find them the next day. This year, I am going to get -- and stay -- organized. That is the gift I am giving myself to cut back on stress, to make an already busy semester less hectic than it needs to be.

When my surroundings are neat and free of clutter, my mind feels less cluttered, too. I feel calmer. And the funny thing is, once you get organized, it is easier to stay organized -- it just takes a few minutes every day to keep that way. And really, how much harder is it for me to file that important paper away in my file cabinet than to set it on the kitchen table, where it will continue to take up my mental space before getting lost or buried underneath other stuff, alluding me when I am frantically looking for it weeks later? Answer: actually a heck of a lot easier to just file it away from the get-go.

Today, in between working on my novel, going to the gym, and preparing my lesson plans for the week, I am going to take half an hour to clean out my backpack and purse. I am going to sort through the papers scattered on my desk and kitchen table. I am going to make a list for the grocery store instead of winging it and forgetting something I need.

I am going to get organized, and stay that way! Will you join me?

Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and editor of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three years in a row and her nonfiction has appeared in a variety of national publications including Family Circle, Writer's Digest, The Writer, and The Los Angeles Times. She is the founder of Write On! For Literacy and Write On! Books Youth Publishing Company and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Fiction Writing at Purdue University, where she teaches undergraduate writing courses and serves as Assistant Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review.

14 comments:

  1. I'm in. Starting the tidy right now. And I've bought a lipstick pink filing cabinet. It matches nothing but it makes me happy to see it.

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  2. Boy, I really needed this! Thanks....

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  3. Oh, my desk will never look like that. But I appreciate the nudge! (-:
    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Excited about the new edition (expanded! updated! even more helpful for writers!) of The Frugal Book Promoter, now a USA Book News award-winner in its own right (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo)

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  4. My hubby would love it if I could organize my organized clutter. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  5. Great article, Dallas! My goal this year is to be less busy and more productive, and organization is a part of it.

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  6. I definitely need to be better organized!

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  7. I'll join you Dallas. I can't do anything well in the midst of clutter. Of course organisation extends into our work too doesn't it? Tidy desk, tidy outline, tidy promotional plan :-).

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  8. Thanks for the comments and support, everyone! :) Annie, a lipstick pink filing cabinet sounds like perfect motivation to stay organized!

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  9. It's one of my goals for this year too!

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  10. I'm always in some stage of trying to get something organized. Today I was sorting through the huge pile of recipes that have stacked up in my china cabinet.

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  11. I'm trying to get organized too. I wish I could just pull a "Bewitched" or "IDOJ." Thanks for the advice!

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  12. Dallas, great post. Being organized really does matter. I just got another bookcase to clear up the clutter around my computer - lwhat a difference. I've been there with the dishes and writing also and say 'in a bit, in a bit,' then it's late and I'm beat.

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