Organization Log 001 List of what I need to clean


I took a few moments to write down what’s bothering me: digital files, courses, browser tabs, email, and passwords. I feel better after writing everything down.
Try it: Start an organization log to keep track of your progress.
Time: 30 minutes

Organization Log Entry 001

Hello and welcome to this organization log.

Feel free to start your own. Journaling is a great exercise, and, as I’ll say often, digital organization is more difficult than physical organization. It’s so hard to see progress after sitting in front of your computer or on your phone for hours on end. Keeping a log is a great way to help track your progress. Just pretend you’re in a Star Trek episode, making a recording. “Captian’s Log, Stardate…”

I’ve been meaning to organize my digital space for weeks. Months, even. The reason I keep finding excuses not to start? It feels overwhelming. I don’t know where to start because I have five different areas I want to start but I can’t choose which one to do first.

Between work and kids and taking advantage of summer in the greater Seattle area to be outdoors, I don’t have a lot of time all at once. I have snatches and moments, and the only way to take advantage of small chunks is to break tasks down into quick steps, have a plan, and be ready to go.*

*This is a skill I learned as a mom of twins. For example, before I had kids, I would be able to clean both bathrooms all in the same session. When the twins were born, my first and oldest was just over two years old. Then the next year I had twin one-year-old babies and a three-year-old toddler. The only way I could clean my bathrooms was in fits and starts. One day I might clean one toilet. Another day I would take a moment and clean another toilet. Then I might find a moment before hopping in the shower to clean the tub. It all eventually got clean, but I had to break things down into their most atomic element and have a plan.

Without further ado, here are the things I have on my mind:

  • Digital files. This is my bread and butter of what I want to show everyone how to do. I have Dropbox for multiple emails, Google Drive for multiple emails, and OneDrive. I also have a number of external hard drives and thumb drives in a drawer. And my Downloads folder has crept up there again. I have big plans for creating lots of content for my blog, and then expanding my blog posts into podcast episodes and YouTube videos. I’m super excited to create a content map so that I understand how I want to set up my digital workspace for all this content I’m about to create.
  • Courses. I’m one of those people who has bought more courses than I’ve completed. Buying a course doesn’t just automatically solve my problems. I need to do the work. I’d love to make a list of all my courses with information like when I bought it, how much I spent, why I bought it, who the author is, link, password, and what my completion status is (not started, in progress, or complete). Maybe even a space for a few quick notes how I liked it or one or two takeaways. The other reason I need to get my courses organized is so I can know which course I’m working on and have videos queued up to listen to during my commute or while walking. The last reason I need to get my courses organized is so I can create folders for my courses in my digital files.
  • Browser tabs. Not really content-related, but still bothering me. I have tabs on my phone, tabs on my personal laptop in multiple browsers (Chrome with my personal profile and Chrome with my business profile), and tabs on my work laptop in multiple browsers (Chrome and Microsoft Edge).
  • Email. Also not really content-related, but also bothering me. I need to read emails from people I subscribe to and decide to stay on their lists or unsubscribe. I’m not convinced that I need to get to Inbox Zero, but I do need to be able to find and reply to actual mail.
  • Passwords. Semi-content related, since I need to be able to log in to everything in my digital life. A year ago I bought LastPass, and my security score is dismal because I like to reuse the same password. It’s a random series of letters, numbers, and symbols that I memorized, so it’s pretty strong. But since reusing passwords is not a good idea, I want to go through my entire list and update all my passwords to be unique. I also have some passwords in LastPass and some passwords in my Google Password manager, so I need to choose one or the other. (Or maybe I do both, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Leave a comment below with your opinion, and I’ll respond.) And I need to make sure whichever I choose is complete with all the things in one place.

Thirty minutes and I’ve gotten all my thoughts out on screen. I might not have done any actual work yet, but I feel better.

By writing everything down, I don’t have to worry about remembering everything. It’s like a pensieve from Harry Potter, but for tasks and things to do instead of memories. (That’s also why I use a bullet journal.)

Thoughts are fleeting and flit around here and there. (Think of the song, There She Goes by Sixpence None the Richer. “There she goes…racing through my brain.”) Now that it’s in writing, it has substance and permanence. It exists in a steady physical state. I can come back to it later and it will still be there, the same as when I wrote it.

Trying to remember things increases your cognitive load or mental load. (This is real thing, especially for many women.) Journaling and bullet journals help decrease the stress of mental load. Once it’s written down, you don’t have to think about any more. You just have to make sure you have a system for organizing and checking your list(s). But that’s a post for another day.

Try it yourself

  • Make a folder somewhere (it can get organized later). Call it Organization Log.
  • Start a Word or Google Doc file and call it Organization Log 2022-06 (or whatever year and month this is for you…but keep it YYYY-MM format! It’s really important to name files in YYYY-MM-DD format.)
  • In that file, write today’s date, make it bold or H2 or something, and write down what’s worrying you. What are the things you feel are unorganized and maybe out of control? It doesn’t have to be fancy, but do make it more than just a few bulleted lists. Keep it simple, but be descriptive enough that someone unrelated could read it and understand what you mean.

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