When I started up school about a month ago, I knew I was in for a challenge. I had just discovered the world of online writing. I was excited and had posted biweekly on my blog all summer long. I had big plans. Then I realized that school was coming up. What had started as a summer hobby had become a passion, and I didn’t want to stop.
How was I going to maintain my writing while juggling eleventh grade? I’m not homeschooled. I don’t have the most flexible schedule in the world. Then it hit me. The one major area I lacked in was organization.
Organization: Why It Doesn’t Come Naturally To Me
I am a creative and spontaneous person. My mother will be the first one to tell you that I’m horrible at finishing what I’ve started. I always have a new project to work on. I get so excited about the project that I don’t strive to complete the first one. She’ll also tell you that I think deeply, and she has me repeat instructions to make sure I’ve heard them. Otherwise, I’ll continue on in my own world without realizing what she’s said.
With a personality like that, you can do great things, but you also have many struggles. You guessed it, a significant one is organization. With such a spontaneous personality, I am apt to forget, get lost in some thought or activity, or be lazy. Often because I think a structured schedule would be too hard to maintain. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, it’s that it’d be especially demanding and difficult.
Organization: Why It Matters
I could just say, “Well, I’m bad at organization. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one of those people.” Most of society would accept that excuse. After all, (1) I’m a teenager, and (2) it’s not part of my “personality”. Why in the world would I try?
My writing instructor on YWW (the Young Writer’s Workshop), Brett Harris, encourages teens to rebel against the low expectations the world has for us. My thought was that I couldn’t organize, schedule, and plan easily and therefore I shouldn’t be expected to ever be successful in that area.
But I needed to answer God’s calling to take on responsibility. I was being lazy. I was making excuses for myself. That’s not the kind of Christian I want to be.
Productivity and organization isn’t about getting more done. On the surface, yes, that’s the goal. However, what I am learning is that our ultimate goal in organizing our time, energy, and productivity is to serve others as we glorify God. If I have done everything on my to-do list but haven’t served others or done it to the glory of God, it’s been a wasted day.
That’s a huge struggle. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I waste my day. I’m lazy, or I am productive but for wrong reasons. I want to belong, or be known, or make a mark.
But what if work and productivity was about creating beauty, serving others, and learning to be humble? What if organization was a tool to be a good steward? What if I was gifted in a certain way so that I could bless others and point them to Christ – not so I could draw attention to myself? What if my driving force in everything I did was that I was not my own? That the Creator has given me a tiny piece of His clay to help shape?
Organization and Productivity: What I’ve Done To Achieve It
I am just starting this journey. I am not an expert on the top five ways to structure your week or what timers you should be using.
However, there are tiny steps I have been implementing in my days and weeks. Every little thing helps. Here’s what I’ve done so far…
- I’ve started a morning routine. My ideal morning routine looks like this: I get up at 6:30 am, make my bed, grab a cup of tea, and sit on the balcony to have devotions. After a half an hour or 40 minutes, I sit down to write for 15 minutes. This 15 minute writing session was inspired by Cassie Watson, a fellow YDubber who’s been doing a class on productivity. Although I often fail to implement this step, when I do, it’s extremely rewarding. I find that I have a ton of mental energy in the mornings so my writing sessions are more productive than a 30 minute session after school. I then go on to have breakfast, get dressed, and sit down for online school.
- I’ve bought a paper planner. People structure their time in different ways, but I decided to buy a paper planner this year, and I’m so glad I did. I’m still figuring out all the ways I can use it but it’s helpful to have all your organization & to-do lists in one place. It’s also aesthetically pleasing – a.k.a. happiness.
- I’ve made an ideal week schedule. Also inspired by Cassie Watson, I’ve created a Google Sheets schedule of what an ideal week of mine would look like, from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. It’s color coded, and I have school, lunch, writing sessions, breaks, family time, and other things planned out in blocks. The idea is to plan my actual week around this schedule. I’ve yet to do this – it is a recent addition to my productivity endeavor – but I’m hoping to use it next week, and if I stick to it, for months after that.
Those are three things I’ve tried to do to help myself out, but there are many other tricks and tips. I’d love to chat with you all about organization and productivity. What do you do to manage your time? What does your schedule organization look like?