Learning to Love Structure



I’ve always prided myself on being a laid back, take-each-day-as-it-comes kind of a gal. I’ve never liked having too much structure built into my days. Structure has always somehow stressed me out and made me feel… trapped. Claustrophobic. Whenever a phone reminder pops up to remind me to do something, I feel a mischievous thrill in hitting the dismiss button. 

“I DISMISS you, reminder! I’m a rebel without a cause! No phone’s gonna tell ME what to do!”

I tend to do things when I feel I have the motivation and energy to do them. This system has worked surprisingly well for me through the years, believe it or not. I work much better when the pressure is on when the deadline is looming. Procrastination has been my go-to action plan. It was the same through all of my years in school, as well. I’d wait until the last minute to start giant projects, yet somehow I’d manage to get it all done and do it successfully.

The Type-A people reading this are cringing deep down in their very souls right now. (I’m looking at you my sweet, long-suffering husband.)

This way of life even worked well for me through all the years of having small children at home. I’d wake up and take each day as it came because there weren’t many major pressing deadlines when it came to teaching babies and toddlers how to… be humans. The very nature of that all-important job is unsystematic. Un-schedule-able. You’ve got to just follow your gut and know that what worked well for one child may not work well for the other child. Or what worked for one child one day may not work at all the next day. 

Even now, I usually wait until right before Chris gets home from work to get the house in order. (It’s 5:00! Clean all the things and figure out what to feed everyone, stat!) Meal planning fares no better with me. The rebel in me always decides (last minute!) to make something other than what I’d carefully planned beforehand… I think maybe just to show ‘earlier me’ that she’s not the boss of ‘right now me’? Oh, me’s. Can’t we all just get along?

Lately, however, this way of life isn’t working as well as it used to. My boys are in school during the days now, and for the first time ever, I’m craving some sort of structure and organization for my daily routine. I’m ready to stop procrastinating and start planning. But after years of fighting against the system and raging against the machine, what’s a girl to do? How can someone just change the way they’ve existed over the last 34 years? Can old dogs really learn new tricks?

Good news, y’all. The answer is yes! Old dogs really can learn new tricks! With some help, support, and a little creativity, this here structure-hater is finding a new way for herself. It’s a much more organized way. As it turns out, structure can be fun! And freeing! And even… creative!

As a creative type of person, I have now learned that I need to intentionally incorporate some originality into my organization plan, or else I absolutely will not be able to stick with it long-term. For me, it looks like this: 

Stickers! Colors! Paper! Fonts! Pens! Doodles! Motivational quotes! Cuteness! More creativity than you can shake a stick at! Apparently, making my calendar look like an art class final will cause me to actually look at it.

With a lot of help and encouragement from my husband and my more organized friends, this method has been working really well for me. If you are anything like me and struggle to find any joy in structure, try grabbing a pack of colorful pens, some fun stickers, a day-planner that inspires you, and then get to work messing it up and making it your own! Hopefully, the thrill of being creative and the peace that comes with organizing your life a bit more will be motivation enough to stick with it like it has been for me. 

There are still days the rebel in me looks at my pretty day planner and chooses to procrastinate, but those days are becoming few and far between. Now, I’m learning how to actually schedule in pockets of time to just ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ without letting it overtake and derail my entire day or week or MONTH. The very thing that used to feel so confining and claustrophobic to me has become completely liberating. And all it took was finding the right method that worked best for me.

So, how about you? Have any of you struggled with organizing your days? What tools or tricks have you found to help you strike a good balance? I’d love to hear some of your tips. I have a lot to learn in the world of organization, and I am all ears!

 
   

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