The Fine Line Between Organization and Insanity

“Be organized”

“Get a planner"

"Write it all out so you won’t forget it”

“Improve on your time management skills” 

I have heard these words time and time again. It has been instilled in me that having proper organizational skills and being able to manage my time is essential for improving my work/academic life and overall quality of life. Whether it be color coding a planner, writing down a to do list on a notepad or just simply remembering all your obligations, we all have our own way to be organized. But there comes a time when life gets in the way and adulthood becomes at times unbearable, so people advising me to be on top of it and be organized were right -- to some extent. 

journaling Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash

Personally, I always considered my organizational skills a strong suit of mine. I keep track of everything, I make consistent lists, and I set reminders. In middle school I used a written planner, in high school I used OneNote and created a color coded table with all my classes, assignments and other obligations, and in college I used OneNote again. Moreover, I make lists and reminders on the iPhone reminders app, and I text myself things I want to remember for the future. So far, this has worked out well for me. But as a graduating senior and someone who is about to enter the real world and adulthood, I've realized I need a better way to organize my life. Soon, I will not need to keep track of school assignments, but rather groceries, recipes, essential purchases, job duties, medical school applications, social obligations and so on. So, I downloaded Notion. I cannot begin to describe the level of frustration I felt when I downloaded the “super organizer”, and yes, everything is now in one place with easy access; however, I cannot help to think that what if this level of organization is harming me more than helping me.

I am a perfectionist, so when I began using alternative ways of staying organized and on top of all my obligations, I quickly became overwhelmed. But wasn’t the whole point of being organized and managing my time to decrease my stress and anxiety? My eagerness to perfect an organizational method slowly became an obsession for me. It got to the point where I wanted to plan out what I do hourly, and if anything went awry, my anxiety would skyrocket. Clearly, this is not a healthy way of living. In reality, I was given a false sense of control. I went along with it since the one thing I crave, as well as many others, is control. Being in your early 20s comes with a lot of professional, academic, social and familial responsibilities, and the one thing that tends to slip between the cracks is control- especially when we most need it. I soon realized I was overreacting to the smallest shifts in my daily plan, and I would go to bed without feeling accomplished, when the truth was that I was rather productive. With that being said, I stopped planning things out hourly, I focused on assignments on a weekly basis rather than planning the future extensively, and I allowed myself to have me time. For example, I stopped getting mad at myself if I didn’t do one little thing, and I allowed myself to not fixate so strongly on my responsibilities all the time. 

woman with her head on her desk with books open around her Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. If you want to write down a to-do list on a random piece of paper, then that's just your system. So be it! The minute you feel like you're drowning in obligations, then maybe revamp how you organize and plan out your wells. Utilize specific tools and resources in a way that best suits your needs rather than going along with the general public. Realistically, there may be a lot of trial and error, and the best way for you to organize your life will evolve.