Writer’s Workshop: Messy!

When he was with the Braves, Brian McCann got the nickname “Heap” because his locker was a mess, with everything in a pile at the bottom of his locker. I’ve always organized things like that: toss everything in a pile and look for it when I need it, confident that it’s in the pile somewhere.

When I was working, I would pile all the paper that I either generated myself or that other people left in my mailbox in a big pile. When I needed something, I went searching through the stack until I found it, then when I was done with it I’d put it back on top of the pile. When the stack got about a foot high, I’d take the bottom six inches off the stack and throw them away. If I hadn’t needed it by then, the chances were good I wouldn’t need it later. Someone I worked for once took exception to my organization technique, and forged a memo from the head of the department that said seeing my desk made him physically ill and left it in my mailbox. I was upset until I learned it was a joke. Then I was pissed. It wasn’t long before I cleaned my desk, on my way to a new job.

When I was in second grade, I was sent on an errand by the nun, and when I came back, I discovered that the principal of St. Ignatius School had taken everything out of my desk, straightened the books out and put them back in, and left all the papers in a heap on an empty desk. Evidently she had done this in front of everyone else, so everyone was staring at me, boys snickering, girls rolling their eyes, as I took all the paper and threw it in the wastebasket. That was what they did in those days, embarrass you in front of the whole class.

Did it embarrass me? Damn right it did.

Did it make me change? No. The only thing Reverend Mother did was to make me angry enough to hope that karma would bite her in the ass in the most painful and embarrassing way possible. She was gone the next year under suspicious circumstances. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

I’m an inveterate packrat. I always figure that, if I don’t need it now, I might need it later, and I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Fortunately, I now have electronic help: Evernote.


An elephant never forgets, and neither does Evernote…

When I get an important document through the US Mail that I know I’ll need later, I scan it into Evernote. When an important email comes in, I forward it to Evernote. When we get a new appliance, I find the manual online and save it in Evernote. When I pay a bill online, I forward the confirmation email to Evernote. If I see an article I might want to reference later, guess where it goes? The HTML code for all the badges and other tricks I use on the blog is on a single page, and I cut-and-paste the appropriate code into the editor. I write myself notes and keep them there. If I need something, I can do a text search, and no matter where it is in the note, be it in the title, in a tag, or on a graphic or in a PDF, it’ll find it. The paper goes right in the wastebasket (or better, in the shredder) and is no longer a problem.

I’ll bet the guy who invented Evernote was messy like me.

25 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Messy!

    1. Some nuns were wonderful, others were okay. I’d say there were only four or five in grammar school that were really bad (physically or psychologically abusive). Said principal also grabbed my cheek and pinched it so that her fingernails broke my skin and left me with two painful cuts. I think they sent her to Africa after that year, and I’d like to think she was eaten by cannibals. But I doubt it.

      Another one apparently enjoyed living in the convent a little too much and was asked to leave…

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    1. It is. The premium subscription is worth every penny. I use as much of the 10 GB a month I’m allowed to upload a month as I can. I just wish my Medicare Advantage company had all their documentation in downloadable form instead of having to deal with the huge books they mail me every year. I really like the Evernote search features.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice!
    I’m a highly-organized person, but paper is still the bane of my highly-organized life. So much of it is just a page or two I need to hold on to for a limited time, then cast aside. School crap. Hence, the bulletin board. Still, my desk has quite a pile of Do This, Do That on it sigh It feels neverending.
    We do scan and upload and shred a lot, but still.
    Now, The Mister, he’s like you. I have given him drawers. When he can no longer add to the drawers, he is forced to sort and he hates that. LOL But it keeps me safe from his wrath. “Where is my —?” “What did you do with my —-?” “Stop moving my —!!!” πŸ˜›

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      1. YES! On top of the emails and the phone calls! Some of it, I much appreciate, like a paper schedule of all performances for the entire school year, but other bits, like open house sheets, totally wasteful. I got a phone call, then an email, and now I have paper! Yes, yes, open house last night, 6-8! Got it! lol
        I don’t think that I had as much take home paper in high school as my kid #3 has had since August.

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          1. I think it’s one of those things where they want to be progressive and ecologically friendly, but they have such a hard time letting go of how it’s always been. I’m thinking you know all about that, all the teachers in your background.

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  2. LOL I am a paper person and I kind of like your system. I cannot get the hang of using any programs to help with keeping records other than Quicken for accounting/tax purposes. I have ALL my papers and receipts but I file them in accordion files throughout the year so I know they are in some order. Yes, the nuns were very good at using us to demonstrate right and “wrong.”

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    1. Oh yeah, the IRS sure does love the paper trail. I set up a notebook in Evernote for all the tax documents and scan the ones that are mailed. A lot of financial institutions have started providing the documents in downloadable format, which I really like. Those are the copies I work off of. I use the H&R Block tax software, which is well-suited to our situation. It pulls in the previous year’s tax information and leaves a file on the hard drive. At the end of tax season, I upload that file into Evernote as well.

      “Right” and “Wrong” were too often what “Sister likes” and what “Sister doesn’t like.”

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  3. I’m not disorganized. I just have a system that’s hard to communicate to others. If I don’t anticipate anyone else needing something, I don’t have to explain that it’s on the corner of my desk between the pencil jar and the blue paper clip. If there’s gonna be other people in my space… Well… Maybe we’re all better off if I alphabetize a few things before someone else hides them.

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  4. We are soulmates in this area, John—except that I haven’t learned to use Evernote yet. To each his own, is what I say. If it works for you, then that’s good enough. Saddened by your story about your desk at school. Incidents like that can leave scars and aren’t effective anyway.

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    1. It took me a while to understand what Evernote could do and to simulate what I was doing already without it. It’s very adaptable that way.

      Really, it didn’t matter how I was keeping my desk, but she got her panties in a wad about it.

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  5. I am an organized person and most of what I do is online, paying bills and such. I still retain a certain amount of paper, which comes from my corporate days of yore. I have one of those Rubbermaid storage bins that I use as a file cabinet and all paper is filed in labeled folders. Every now and then, I clean them out and shred anything that shows our name, address, etc. My husband, however, is a different story. I have organized some of “stuff” but not all of it.

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    1. Neither Mary nor I is particularly organized and until I got Evernote we were running around looking for things and always wondering “Did you pay the _______ bill?” Now, I scan everything into Evernote and get rid of the paper as soon as I can, and anything that can be electronically delivered, is.

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