I have a confession. There is one thing that kept me from reaching my fullest potential at work, in school, and in life: being a disorganized person. For the past 5 years, I haven’t had a planner. “How does she remember any deadlines?” you wonder incredulously.
Every day, I’d check Canvas and go look at the syllabus for each of my 6 classes. A planner would have been the smarter option, but I thought I was okay like this. I used my GPA as evidence that this faulty method was working, at least in an academic setting. I even remembered work deadlines. But there were little things I began to forget.
For example, I might do a full report and then forget to write the scores at the bottom. Or, my professor may mention something in passing, like saying that he is shortening the assignment, and I’ll do the long version of it instead. I’m a conscientious student for the most part. I have good grades, and I don’t shy away from asking questions. I apply myself academically.
But a few days ago, I had a full breakdown. I had forgotten an important appointment, I was late to a fitness class, and I lost a necklace that had sentimental value.
There was more. I thought a doctor was going to be meeting me at 8:30, but that was my brother’s appointment– mine was at 8:15. I was putting in the work at Continuity Care but then forgetting to report it on the paperwork. While people in my life told me that I was a hard worker, I felt like no one could depend on me to remember the little things. Not being detail oriented was truly screwing me over. I broke down over what a bad professional I would become one day if this continued.
And I didn’t know what to do about it. But then I had a stroke of inspiration. See, I wasn’t always like this. At age 15, I was organized enough to give Marie Kondo a run for her money. At this stage in my life, I was championing a minimalist philosophy. My room looked like a hotel– every counter was bare, and my closet had only the items I wore most. I kept a planner religiously.
The only ones who remember their 15 year old selves with such clarity are elephants (known for their good memories) or teenagers who had a YouTube channel. And we’ve already established that my memory is nothing special, so that puts me in the latter category. Yes, I was a Youtuber. Last night, I went back and watched some videos that I wisely made private. The transformation was shocking. My room was the cleanest it ever was. I heard my 15 year old self say that she has a “clutter free” policy on her bathroom counter. I paused the video and looked at my current self’s bathroom counter.
I realized that something had to change. If I was able to be an organized person when I was barely on the cusp of young adulthood, then why couldn’t I do the same at 20 years old? If anything, I was wiser! More capable! I should have this in the bag!
To change my habits, I got a planner.
But this was progress. Last night, I made it a goal to go back to my former, minimalist self. I know that having bare bedroom counters and clutter free policies is not for everyone, but I realized that it was a huge contributing factor to my productivity. I spent a few hours and decluttered my closet.
Today, I want to declutter everything else. I won’t go to my grandparents’ house until this mammoth task is complete. Marie Kondo (famous decluttering guru) says that our willpower is highest in the morning, so it’s 10:52 am now and I hope to report back tomorrow as a fresh minimalist. I know it’s not this easy to change what feels like an immutable aspect of your personality, but I’m trying. And that’s all you can ask of yourself, right?