Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Too Much Paper and Snow Day

I continue to struggle with having way too much stuff and way too much paper. As I was working on paring some things down the other day both on my physical and computer desktops, I realized that I was printing almost as much new stuff as I was recycling. As I went back and looked at the pattern, I realized that I simply have not found a good way online to keep track of ideas, things to do and other specific pieces of information. Thus, I keep a paper to-do list, as none of the apps or programs we’ve tried seem to work well with how I think. I keep paper notes and reminders on projects that are underway, all in separate folders and/or stacks. I’ve tried starting ideas folders and putting notes on my computer in various forms, and none of those seem to work for me. That doesn’t mean I’ll give up trying, as I truly would like to reduce the amount of paper I have around me, but it also complicates the problem as I think about it.

As I was ruminating about all of that, I flashed on images of some of the bound books administrators I know carry around. Now that’s a system I truly do not understand: having notes about every single diverse project all in the same bound book? That would drive me nuts. I write a lot of notes to myself (I’m visual and kinesthetic, both) and the only way all the different projects keep moving forward is that they’re each decanted and segregated into their own little realm. I do the same thing with folders in my email and documents on my computer, notwithstanding the advice just to mush them all together and search them to find what’s needed. Maybe my memory is too fragile or something. Using a single notebook that is a chronologically straightforward but a topical mish-mash of information on every project interleaved seems messy to me, yet it clearly works really well for a lot of people. How does that work, anyway? Brad says that he tags his lab notebooks so he always knows where he is on the projects he’s working on, which makes sense to me if one is, as bench scientists are, required to have one continuous notebook for reasons of scientific rigor and integrity. But choosing to do it on purpose outside that realm? Confusing to me.

We are having a snow day here, as the weather has pretty much shut down the region. The timing is great, as I’m pushing hard to get a more-or-less complete skeleton of the book to my editor to see if she likes the most recent reincarnation of it any better than the previous ones. Wish me luck on that. I was scheduled to travel Monday/Tuesday and postponed the trip as it appeared that I might get to the destination but probably not home again. That left two--now three--complete open days, and I’ve been using them for a big push on this draft of the book. I’m hopeful, but it’s a bit soon to tell if this approach is going to work, or will crumble upon closer examination. Back at it now.

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