Before I Do This, I Need To Do That: How To Never Get Anything Done EverI am chronically disorganized.

Now, I like when things are all neat and tidy. It’s calming.

But you’ll rarely see my workspace in such an idyllic state. (See the photographic evidence? That’s my desk on a good day.)

For the ultra-curious, no, I’m not writing this blog post at my desk because then, I’d have to clean off my desk. I’m at the [not-quite-so-cluttered] dining room table.

I think a lot of household tasks are like that — in order to accomplish one goal (use the laptop on the desk), you need to complete a few pre-requisite tasks first. I mean, you can’t just swipe off your desk with your forearm.

Stuff has to be put away.

That 20% coupon has to go in my coupon bag. Those rubrics have to stay where I can see them or I’ll freak out when I have to grade papers and can’t find them. That Erroneous Zones book — which is really pissing me off so far, but more on that later — has to make it somewhere near the bookshelf, but it can’t actually go on the bookshelf or else I’ll forget to finish reading it.


Clutter is stressful to me, but cleaning up that clutter is just as heavy. One task begets another, and I often get so sidetracked while cleaning that I forget what I was doing in the first place. Let me take you on a guided tour of my brain for a minute. Go ahead. Hop in. Here we go:

Oh, it’s almost time for dinner. I should probably wash off that cast iron pan in the sink before I do the stir fry, but the sink is full. Shit. I should probably put the dishes into the dishwasher.

Wait — balls. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes, so I guess I should put those away first.

But I hate putting away dishes. Ugh. You know what’ll make it better? Listening to a good podcast. Or some NPR news. Let me find my iPad so I can use the NPR app or the Podcasts app or something.

Maybe there’s a new Planet Money or a 99% Invisible — yes! There is! I win. Oh good; an episode about the I <3 NY symbol. Sounds interesting. This should get me through the dishes.

Wait, why is my goddamn internet so slow again? I can’t download this right now. Guess I’ll have to reset the router again. While I wait for it to reset, I should probably pick up the — whoa, I’m really hungry.

I should grab a granola bar to have before dinner because I don’t want my blood sugar to get too low because low blood sugar = panic attack. Where are my granola bars again?

Oh, they’re in the basement on the shelf.

And then I end up in the basement for an hour, munching on a granola bar and digging around in boxes or something. And probably forgetting about dinner entirely until 9 pm when my stomach growls like a bear.

No one’s ever officially diagnosed me with ADD, but come the eff on.

(Before you wander away to wash a single dish before you realize how badly you need to organize the spice cabinet right now, check out this post’s close cousin: Before I Do This, I Need To Do That: How To Focus On A Single Task.)