Do you ever look around and feel like everybody has it together but you? Like everyone seems to keep their agendas up-to-date, hit every deadline, and get their writing done, while teaching all their classes and graduating five students a year?
And you think: I’m just not naturally organized, and she is.
Well let me let you in one a little secret: I’m not naturally organized either.
When I was first starting out on the tenure track, I just couldn’t seem to get it together. I floundered. I moped. I figured that being organized was just not who I was.
But like so many other things, having kids kicked my butt into gear. No more wallowing in self-pity, this tenured mom of three needed systems and processes to make it all work.
So today I’m breaking down some myths about being organized that held me back then, but hold me back no more. Myths that you need to start busting right now.
Myth #1: Some people are naturally good at organizing
Reality: Organization can be learned
There are certainly some people who have a knack for organization, but the kind of organization that is the result of systems and processes can absolutely be learned. The problem is that no one has taught you the organization habits, systems, and processes that will work specifically for academics.
In my new course, Organize Your Academic Life, which opens for enrollment in February, I teach you how to use a system specifically designed for academics. We don’t talk about these things in academia–but we should.
Myth #2: You have to go either paper or electronic
Reality: You can rock a hybrid system
This one held me back for a long, long time. I thought organizational systems had to be all-or-nothing: you either had to go all electronic or all paper. But I finally got over myself and realized that a combination of electronic and paper is truly what works for me. I have to need to see the whole month in a way that only a paper planner can accomplish, but I love the online project-planning app Trello for really organizing all my projects.
I even use both a paper planner AND my Google calendar. I just need the different functionality that each provides.
The point is that it is totally OK to get organized in a way that works for you. Let go of what you think you should be doing. There is no should, only what works!
Myth #3: You don’t need project management
Reality: Academics have to be project managers
This was the most helpful realization that I’ve made in my academic journey: academics must be project managers. Almost everything we do is a project, from planning and delivering a course to writing an academic article. All of it would go more smoothly if we thought of it like project managers do: breaking it down into tasks and scheduling them out from initiation to completion.
In my new course, Organize Your Academic Life, I teach you how to project manage all aspects of your academic life, including teaching, service, and writing. My favorite thing to project manage is writing. If you’d like a little taste of my new course, check out my Trello templates for writing project management here.
Myth #4: If you tried an organization system and it failed, no system will work for you
Reality: You just haven’t found the right system
Most organizational systems were not designed for academics. Everyday planning methods are not enough, and project management pitched to businesses is too much. If you’ve tried to implement something and found that it just wasn’t a good fit, maybe you need something created specifically for academics.
My new course, Organize Your Academic Life, was created by an academic (me!) for academics, based on the types of projects we need to juggle every day. If you are interested in a little taste, check out my Trello templates for writing project management here. The Organize Your Academic Life course teaches how to use Trello (what I consider to be the perfect-sized project management software for most academics) within a comprehensive system for organizing your academic life. Downloading the Trello templates will give you a good taste of the course!
Myth #5: Systems don’t work for me
Reality: You have to trust the plan–and stick to it
So here’s me in a nutshell: I love to make a plan, to break things down and map them out, but when I sit down to do what I planned, I ditch that and do something else.
Or at least that was me, until I realized that this behavior was simply self-sabotage.
To get over it, I adopted the mantra: just stick to the plan. I realized that undermining all my planning efforts meant that I was just not trusting myself. So I started trusting myself, and sticking to the plan.
This completely improved my organization. Maybe I was organized after all, just lousy on the follow-through! Does this resonate with you? Well maybe it’s time to try a system again–and stick to the plan!
I’m super excited to announce that I’m opening the doors to my new Organize Your Academic Life in the third week of February 2019! If you want to be sure to hear all about it, and get a taste of Trello and the idea of using it for academic project management, then download the Trello templates for academic writing project management today!