Tuesday, January 1, 2013


You know what's great about school?

School is structure incarnate.  School is boot camp for proto-humans.  You show up, they issue you a supply list, a schedule, and a syllabus, none of which are unclear.  "You have only to follow all of these directives, exactly and to the letter," they say, "and all will be well."

And really, for all the bad rap school gets, those little Doozer-towers of artificial structure are solid as hell.  You know, no middle schooler lies awake at night trying to figure out who he has to kiss up to in order to make freshman.  There's no rumors running around the lunch table about downsizing if the tenth grade doesn't meet its fourth-quarter projections.  Shoot, kids in school don't even have the luxury of a midafternoon slump.  Yeah, you can sit there all full and sleepy from lunch, but it's not like you're staring down a tedious inbox and a mess of papers on your desk and trying to figure out where to start.  It's 1:27PM, you're in Spanish I, and your only job is to sit up and pay the hell attention while Mrs. Hill teaches you how to have an involved and respectable discussion about how many lapices and cuadernos you have in your mochila.

By the way, the answer is tres.  Or possibly azul.

Real life is so not school.

Oh, sure, there are still assignments and deadlines and multiple authority figures, each completely oblivious to the demands of the others.  (Tomorrow, I have a tutoring session scheduled for 2, a PowerPoint presentation to turn in by EOB, and a can of Fancy Feast due at 6:30 sharp.)  But as soon as you zoom out of the daily do-list, things get so much more nebulous.  Where's the assignment sheet for the Career project?  What's your current GPA in Health?  Is there some sort of extra credit you can do to bring up your grade in Girlfriend?

Pro tip: it only counts as extra credit if you do it before it starts to smell.

Lately I've been feeling pretty miserably disorganized.  I want so badly to make 2013 the year I turn writing into my Real Job (not necessarily in terms of income, which is in the lap of the gods, but in terms of "this is my full-time focus, the cornerstone of my identity as a self-respecting functional human, the thing I can tell people at cocktail parties while keeping a straight face.")  But it is also the least self-structuring vocation ever.  And there is this annoying voice in the back of my head saying, "Christ, you can't even remember to return text messages - what makes you think you have the organizational chops to grow a platform, write a curriculum, publish articles, serve on a committee, and god forbid, actually write another book?"

Not gonna lie - I could really go for an angry ruler-wielding nun.

However, the ever-fantastic Annie Neugebauer has ridden to my rescue with her Tips for Greater Productivity blog post, and its chart-topping sequel.  Here was me fantasizing about bell schedules and assignment calendars, and there she is laying it out straight.

We CAN have school again, you guys.  We just have to school our OWN SELVES.

Meet Sister Mary Lazarus, my new personal assistant.

And I can't tell you how happy I am to finally have a system in place.  No more fermenting in bed until 10 AM - I've been up before 7 every day for a week.  No more firing up the computer, wondering which of the two dozen things on my to-do list to hit first, and ultimately soaking half my time into the endless thirsty sponge of Wikipedia and Google News.  I have written out a schedule, organized my desk, and yes, bought myself a professional set of Ninja Turtle two-pocket folders, and I am going to handle up on my business.

And that is my wish for you as well.  Whatever business you have set for yourself this year, I hope you handle it tenaciously and with enthusiasm. And a minimum of mental knuckle-whacking, because let's face it - life is much better when you're no longer four feet tall and powerless.

There's lots to do; we have a very busy schedule-
At 8 o'clock we get up, and then we spend
From 8 to 9 daydreaming.
From 9 to 9:30 we take our early midmorning nap.
From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay.
From 10:30 to 11:30 we take our late early morning nap.
From ll:00 to 12:00 we bide our time and then eat lunch.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to use the kitchen timer method of writing. It's kind of like a school bell.
    Here's to achieving your dreams in 2013!