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Organize Like a Project Manager

As a hyper-organized project manager, I’m always calculating my efficiency. So I was looking around my home office the other day to see what actually helps me work better. From organizing my desk in a specific way, to capturing my thoughts in 3 -- yes -- 3 journals, messiness, for me, means I need to clean it up (thanks, Ma, for turning me into a clean freak). Or a pile of papers calls my attention; are they bills I need to pay? Are they student assignments I need to grade?

I hate to admit it but disorganization distracts me. Disorganization distracts my attention, therefore distracting me from projects I’m invested in.

To minimize my Ooh-squirrel! moments, this is how I keep my workspace as tidy and minimalistic as possible.

But first, isn't this workspace dreamy?

Organize Your Desk(top)

A portion of my desk is organized to advertise my active projects. I need constant reminders, so I print my project task lists (also called a Work Breakdown Structure - read about them in this post) and I lay them underneath a clear heat-resistant mat.

And every Sunday I write out my weekly Adulting To-Do List to track the boring but necessary adult stuff. And of course, I track my workouts with an Exercise Calendar.


Organize Your Thoughts

I ripped this practice from Austin Kleon, but I have three types of journals:

  • a long form journal for everyday writing

  • a task list journal to write down what I accomplished each day; it’s important to celebrate small and big wins

  • a pocket journal to capture thoughts during walks or when I'm on-the-go


Some of my best ideas are born in the shower and Aqua Notes helps me document those ideas. The note pad and pencils are waterproof.


It drives me nuts when I have scraps of notes in piles everywhere for the book I’m writing (read an excerpt from my memoir). I’m a major Post Notes user, too, so I got an organization box from Savor to categorize my ideas. My version is called The Vault, and the box is quite sturdy. Savor offers a variety of themed boxes, like for baby memories, pet keepsakes, etc. Sign up for their free newsletter to get a 10% off coupon.


Organize Artwork by Theme

I’ve added two spectacular portraits in my office from Cara Romero (who was also selected for the NDN Collective Radical Imagination grant). And I can’t stop staring at these masterpieces. But cultural artwork inspires me to create, so I organize my office walls by theme. The dominate theme for the wall behind me (or my background for Zoom) is Indigenous culture.


Organize Your Inspiration

Ah, my toy box. Like most kids, I had a wild imagination when playing with my toys, so I keep a toy box within arms reach to fiddle with when I’m creatively dehydrated. A few of my favorite toys include:


Marie Kondo: Master Organizer

Of course I'm a big fan of Marie Kondo's Netflix series. The before and after photos are deeply satisfying, kind of like how you feel when you stick to a weight loss plan and notice the results six months later. Happy organizing, creative hot messes!


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Wellness-ish-ness, a blog for creative hot messes, was created by D.A. Navoti. Read his bio and find him on Instagram and Twitter.

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