This week I was going to follow the thread of my last post and continue with my emo-lumberjack, inner-searching, but instead decided to ramble about the minutia of my new found cleaning and organizing regimen. Working for yourself and being an inherently messy person creates many problems, the majority of which stem from being terminally unorganized. Knowing this, I’ve setup a variety of checks and balances to keep my trippy, surfer-bum lifestyle from affecting my various attempts at entrepreneurship. I’d been feeling pretty good in this department thanks to a few tips I’d picked up from some personal productivity blogs. The key to the system is the separation of tasks from projects. According to research, the no-thought, task doing oriented side of our brains is like kryptonite to the introspective, project planning side of our brains. And when we make to-do lists which mix simple tasks with bigger projects, our brains freak out and get over-whelmed. The proposed remedy is to separate our larger projects from all the little things necessary to accomplish the projects. So I’ve been cataloging in a word document on my laptop with which I update whenever a moment of clarity shines upon me. I’ve then been referring to it weekly and making a list on a notepad of all the little to-do’s which will inch me closer to the big goals. Despite the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing all the shit you have yet to do, the physical clutter of unorganized crap can take its toll on other fronts. Yesterday all the wrappers, sand, dirt, napkins, paper bags and funky wetsuit smells made me snap. Although we’re still a few days away from the official start of spring, yesterday’s stiff fresh breeze and clear sunshine spurred me to completely clean out my van and a japanese wooden teahouse that I call my office.
This wasn’t my normal 90 min, throw-all-my-shit-out-on-the-gravel, sweep and scrub, then throw all my shit back in (minus the orange peels, apple cores, recyclables, and dirty clothes) kind of job I perform on a bi-weekly-ish basis. But the kind of clean where you reach into the pouches, gloves boxes and shelves and ponder the origin and new destination of every misplaced receipt, note, and old flyer that had been merely reshuffled before. The biggest obstacle I face when doing this is staying on track and not tripping-out on some long-lost book that resurfaces mid-way or drifting off into the forgotten context of some journal entry scribbled on a crusty notepad… I managed to keep myself on the straight and narrow by forming an assembly line of chaos. Piles of dirty clothes separated into whites and colors over here, mounds of camera gear with missing lens caps next to the clothes, a quiver of surfboards with old wax melting on the adjacent lawn, funky wetsuits heaped next to a five-gallon bucket with a solution of water, Woolite and mouthwash, stacks of cd’s from friends… Moving from one pile to another and inching closer to completion, beautiful things begin to happen- that foldable solar panel I needed for my cross-county hike magically appears under an old gas can, a nearly full container of alcohol wipes that was on my task list to buy magically appears on the shelf, perfectly good pens in all shapes and sizes rise up from the cracks… After a while the assembly line you’ve constructed to get you over the hump, is no longer necessary. Your brain sees you frolicking in a fresh new land of order and you pick up the pace, putting back all of your new found treasures back into their places with pride. As the sun set and the light began to dwindle, I stacked my shiny surfboards next to my teahouse, folded my minty fresh wetsuits in the back of my clean van, and set my fully-charged and wiped down camera gear into the teahouse knowing that all my shit was in place and ready to be shuffled, fouled and lost again.