My mum always used to tell me ‘don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today’. Wise words. But I should add; these are the words of an organised woman. The words of a woman who knows where the pens are kept, who replaces the phone in its holder, who keeps a weekly shopping list and who knows exactly when the insurance renewal is up. I on the other hand could win awards for chaos.
I’m incredibly poor at time management. I don’t own a watch and I have a calendar I occasionally doodle on. This wouldn’t be a problem if I had nothing much to do. Unfortunately the reverse is true. I run myself raggedly off my own feet in a harried fashion trying to complete all the tasks I should have written down, with the pen I couldn’t find, and didn’t have the time to write down in the first place.
My mum has persevered over the years and continued to dispense advice on writing lists, on having a pad and pen by the phone at all times and on noting important dates on the calendar. I always procrastinate and always have an answer as to why these ‘fail-safes’ won’t work for me.
‘I can’t keep a pen in one place by the phone Mum – it just won’t happen – I’ll chew it, wander off with it, stick it behind my ear and lose it (not that I have enormous lug holes)’ and now I’ve added to the list ; ‘and Nipper will walk off with it’.
And in answer to the social chaos that often engulfs me;
‘I can’t keep a diary or a calendar mum – you know I never know what day of the week it is!’
‘Just like your father’.
Yes. I guess I am. I’m just like my dad. I’ll make no apologies for that. He’s a fantastic man. A creative, artistic fellow who likes a drink, a laugh, to garden and to keep going til he drops. He and my mum know how to live. They balance each other out. Mum writes the shopping list; Dad goes and buys it. Mum arranges Dad’s croquet matches; he goes and plays them (despite never knowing quite what the date is that day). That’s not to say that my mum doesn’t know how to party, or live life to the full, she definitely does; but she also manages to run a house, run dad’s diary and run the local photographic club. She does this with the aid of ‘lists’.
I’ve tried it once or twice, but I just couldn’t get into them.
Things to do
I’ve never responded well to instruction and have always been rubbish at following directions, so perhaps this goes someway to explain my aversion for lists of instructions, masquerading as things to do.
I’ll admit, I could do without the stress of having just 2 hours to renew the car insurance before the bell tolls and we’re on the wrong side of legal. And I could also do with a reminder every now and then that a workman’s turning up on a given day, so I have time to remove the pile of yesterday’s clothes (crowned with my knickers) from the stairs.
Piles. I’m good at those. Piles of clothes. Mine, Nipper’s, the endless piles of wet towels and piles of papers, invoices, bills and plates in the kitchen. Last week though, the perfect opportunity afforded itself for me to take down the piles one by one as I began a desperate search for my accounts. 2009 – 2010. Not exactly a magical financial year for me, but essential to show a return of some sort.
‘Where’s the big yellow jiffy envelope?’ I called out from the dust of the dining room.
‘What big yellow jiffy envelope?’
‘The one containing my accounts’.
‘I don’t know my sweet – where you left them maybe?’ came the reply.
‘Well, I left it in here on top of the green box, carefully stacked on top of the black one, which was actually perched on top of all the cuttings on top of the removal boxes’. It would be disingenuous to call this a ‘pile’ – the invoices and bills had been carefully placed on top of what can only be described as a ‘giant haystack’ of boxes.
Somewhere in my disorganised mind I’d thought that this would be a safe place for Press Contact’s financial year.
I had to find the accounts. There was nothing for it – the piles had to become a thing of the past. They needed to be removed, and there wasn’t a painless way of doing this. I’d have to go through every single one of them.
Three days later and still no sign of the accounts. On the upside, the piles had been dissected, reorganised and, in some instances ‘re-piled’.
I sent an email to my ever patient Accountant entitled ‘I’m An Idiot’. I detailed the piles, the mess, the chaos and he soothed me with the words; ‘don’t worry, we’ll work it out’. He’s not dodgy or anything. He just knows how to read bank statements. He’s probably even one of those people who ‘opens them’. I should start doing that....maybe sometime tomorrow.