How I Stay Organized

Organization seems like an odd thing to write about on this blog, on the surface it doesn’t exactly seem relevant to anxiety. But it’s been a very important part of overcoming some of my anxieties, and I hope they can help if you suffer from a lot of the same fears. Besides, keeping your life organized is just a good habit for anybody to reduce stress! But if I’m being totally honest this is mostly just an excuse to get a little nerdy for a bit.

Two anxieties that cause me a lot of destress are being late for something, and forgetting to do something. These feelings would eat away at me like crazy. In the past I would show up for work 30 minutes early every day, and on the rare occasions I ran late I would be near panic, even if I was just by a minute or two. To avoid forgetting things I would constantly remind myself of the thing I didn’t want to forget and I would just be on edge constantly if I had something important to remember. I’d lose sleep because what if I wake up and totally forget this very important thing.

The most important tool I use for keeping myself organized is my iPhone. For me it’s basically an all-in-one organizational tool that just happens to make phone calls and connect to the internet. Fatastical, Reminders, Notes, they’re all among the most used apps on my phone, and while I could make do without them, that’s not a phase of my life I want to go back to.

I like to keep a calendar of everything I have scheduled, whether that’s my twice-weekly class or some time I want to set aside for something I want to get done. I don’t schedule every minute of my day but I do what I think is within reason. The basic calendar app that comes with the iPhone is absolutely sufficient for this task, but I use Fantastical because of a feature that’s called natural language processing. I can just type “dinner at mom’s on Thursday at 6” and it will create that event on my calendar like magic! I still stress about being late for things, but because I keep my schedule so organized I never feel like I have to be somewhere early just to avoid feeling stressed.

Reminders is an app that comes built-in on the iPhone, and I prefer it mainly because of it’s geo-location feature. Rather than just being able to set reminders for myself to trigger at specific times (which I do for things like taking my meds), the geo-location feature can trigger a reminder when you arrive at or leave any location. It’s not as useful these days, but when I actually had a commute to work it was great to remind me of something I had to do ASAP when arriving at work or getting back home. I no longer feel like I have to constantly remind myself to do something, and I can rest easy at night knowing if I do forget something important I need to do the next day my phone will remind me.

Notes is a place to store general things I don’t want to forget, but I don’t necessarily need to be reminded of. For example little bits of info I want to remember, or a running list of topic ideas for this blog. It’s great because I can even just snap a picture of something I want to remember, or make a quick doodle, and save them as notes that can actually be searched thanks to some magical text and handwriting recognition built-in to the Notes app.

Like with any strategies I share on this blog it might not be the best for you, but I like to share what I do in the hopes that it can serve as a blueprint for people who struggle with the same sort of things. Maybe the rigidness of planning everything out on a calendar stresses you out, or maybe you just prefer to use pen and paper rather than technology. It takes some trial-and-error to find what works, but the only wrong solution is the one that doesn’t benefit you.

Anyway, I hope this didn’t get too nerdy. I’m a huge believer in using technology as a tool for mental health (that could be a whole post on it’s own, maybe soon?), and I’m a big geek so I get a little excited when it comes to this kind of stuff.

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