Penciling YOURSELF In

We all love fall. The slight cooling of the weather that inspires women to break out their Ugg boots, beanies, and scarves; not to mention an even more reasonable excuse to start every morning with a hot latte. But, as much as we love and appreciate the gorgeous changes taking place above our heads as the leaves turn from green to red, we cannot deny that waking up early for work or class now means rising before the sun – a habit that I, myself, am not at all happy about. Due to the fact that I am employed full-time AND in school full time, my high-energy Dobermans and I get up at 6 every weekday to fit in our exercise regime. *For anyone that’s been considering bringing a Doberman into their life, you won’t regret it! However, they are extremely high energy, so unless you have an active lifestyle, or at least an hour to dedicate to their exercise every day, I wouldn’t recommend adopting one.

I think we can all agree that a six am wake-up-call is not nearly as difficult when the sun is up and there is already a definite warmth to the air. In these early days of fall, the comfort of our beds and the heat from our comforter are far more appealing than stepping outside into a pitch black chill in the wee hours of the morning. There are some rare mornings where my alarm so rudely and shrilly awakes me, and I just hit that lovely “snooze” button and burrow right back under the covers. The key word in that sentence is “rare.” When you have two dogs, you quickly learn that they thrive on a scheduled and organized life. It is also rare that I ever need an alarm to wake me up. Generally, somewhere in the fifteen minutes between 5:45 and 6:00 am, a gigantic Dobie paw will land squarely on my face – in the Doberman world, this means “It’s time to get up!”

It was during my run with my crazy Dobermans this morning that I began to think about the importance of living a structured life (one of the few perks of running your dogs so early in the morning is that there is no one else around, and so your mind does not need to be so intensely occupied with keeping track of your animals and their proximity to others). Dogs tend to be happier and more balanced when they have a set schedule. Once they’re fed and exercised, they’re content. Who’s to say it can’t be the same for humans? IT CAN.

I hate to use my boyfriend as an example again, but, alas, I must. He is the epitome of someone who “flies by the seat of his pants.” He has no set schedule, and I’ve never, in the 2 years I’ve known him, seen him on time for anything. Not once. He never remembers if he has doctors appointments or what time his meetings are because he doesn’t write things down or keep a calendar.

I’ve found, in my more recent adult years, that if I write things down either A) in a calendar, or B) on a piece of paper in the form of a list, I tend to get a lot more done. I need the my entire day/week/month laid out before me in order to get everything I need accomplished. This is not to say that calendars and lists will work for every single person. Maybe you’re more comfortable with your smart phone (another great thing about technology – handheld calendar access whenever you need it!). If that’s the case then more power to you! No need to lug around a notebook-sized calendar that practically lays out every hour of every day for you.

If you’re as OCD as I am (not literally OCD, but, perhaps, obsessively organized), then here’s a tip: color-coordinate the most important things in your calendar. I am the type of person that likes to see the entire month ahead in front of me. And not only do I put things in the monthly view, I put them in the daily/weekly view as well. For instance, I always write my “Paydays” in red; things my dogs need are highlighted in yellow (heartworm, flea meds, vet trips); and homework is usually only recorded in my weekly calendar unless I have a test or assignment due.

I’m not saying that the key to success is a planner, but staying organized and writing things down definitely is. As I said in my post about organizing your home, the most important part is expelling the small amount of energy it takes to start the organizing and then the dedication to stay with it. I mean, really, how hard is it to pull out your calendar (or phone) every day and take a peek at what you need to get done for that day, the week, or the month? Write things down, make lists – the satisfaction of physically crossing something off is so gratifying, it is completely worth the annoyance of documenting something in pen and ink.

The basis of this message, and any organizational posts that follow, is to STOP BEING LAZY. There absolutely NO excuse for it. If you’re watching your favorite TV show, or if you’re cooking something that takes a long time and little-to-no maintenance, then use that simultaneous spare time you have to fold your clothes, do laundry, clean your room, clean the dishes – do SOMETHING productive that you keep putting off. You will feel SO much better if every surface of your home is junk-free and clean. I promise you that.

*If you’re a visual person and you feel you might need a calendar, Target and Walmart sell them for an extremely low price (and – BONUS – their calendars are from June of the same year through August of the next year). Don’t rip yourself off for some Staples brand, leather-bound day-planner that only gives you 9 months as opposed to the 15 that Target’s or Walmart’s will give you. And while you’re investing some time and money into a planner, might as well pick up some colored pens and highlighters to really give your calendar that extra organizational “oomph” it really needs.

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