Lorie Marrero is a slim, polished woman whose oversize shoulder bag
contains a mini file drawer. Seriously. She wouldn't get to the
video store only to realize she'd left the overdue DVD at home,
because it's filed under D. Opening my front door to her, I'm
overwhelmed with inadequacy. I feel better after my dog rubs
against her legs and leaves white hairs on her navy pants.
I open my office-in-an-armoire for her inspection. Like a doctor
looking down a patient's throat, she says, "Ah-haah." Then she
interviews me and discovers all the inefficient ways in which I
store things, manage e-mail, waste time, etc. My multiple to-do
lists on scraps of paper don't qualify as a calendar at all. Ditto
for my contact management (those various, unsynchronized address
books). She lectures me about my lack of a computer-backup system.
(One of LivingOrder's clients had a laptop stolen out of her house.
No backup. All files had to be re-created from scratch.) Ditto for
my lack of a shredder (my dog doesn't count). Ditto for my
mismanagement of online passwords. My ego is destroyed.
Just in time to be rebuilt in a new, more organized image.
She makes a list: Things to do per Lorie. Put all contacts in one
electronic database, with notes for searching by keyword. Get a
good shredder. Arrange daily, overnight, off-site backup, plus CDs
as backup of the backup. Make a password-protected spreadsheet for
all login info. Take one or two hours each week to review progress
Finally, she tells me I need a comprehensive master list of
everything that needs doing: work, home, family, school. People who
try to keep little tasks in their heads - "got to call Aunt Rita"
or "e-mail new contact from the conference" or "the piano needs
tuning" - only distract themselves. Those nagging thoughts are like
flotsam and jetsam of the brain, clogging free-running thought.
"You can be more creative without them," she slyly suggests. Okay,
master to-do list it is.