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May I borrow your soiled boxers?

OPINION

October 14, 2012|By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley | For RedEye

Quick question: Are any of you people actually organized? Do you have efficacious methods of keeping track of your work and life? If so, can you come to my place, explain your approach, and then hit me in the face with a ruler until I understand?

One of the great quandaries of modern life is that despite the proliferation of time-saving and life-organizing gadgets and programs, all of us still have work spaces that look like bombs went off. I have an iPhone, iPad, Evernote, laptop and six notebooks, and still my desk looks like a pad of Post-Its ran into the center wearing a suicide vest.

The other day, I found a Post-It with the following written on it: "If you get the lobster to start menstruating again, you solve half the problem right away."

I have no idea what I meant by that, but man, do I wish I did because it sounds like the start of some kind of great idea.

It's not that I don't get everything done that needs to get done. My editor gets these columns on time. The Chicago Public Library can stop freaking out at me on e-mail because I'll return those books eventually. And yes, dentist, you a-hole, I'll let you jam hard metal bits in my mouth and tell me I'm not flossing enough right after I organize the rest of mother-effing life (and buy some floss).

Tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way, who would love to get things done efficiently but has too many moments like this:

I was printing a piece of writing while eating a turkey sandwich with wasabi mayo, but the pages were printing out all funky. So I went to the web to troubleshoot my printer, which recommended I take out the ink cartridge and clean it with a tissue.

Due to my disorganization, I almost never have a box of tissues handy, so I end up blowing my nose on dirty clothes in the hamper an awful lot (which is just environmentally friendly anyway). However, while deciding whether to use a pair of soiled boxers to clean my printer, I sneezed mid-sandwich bite because wasabi mayo makes my sinuses itch, and turkey sandwich sprayed forth. Of course, due to one brief moment of organization that had now totally backfired, I'd just done my laundry the day before and had no soiled boxers to clean up with.

So 20 minutes later, instead of printing out a piece of writing and carrying on with my day, I was sitting with my entire arm, desk and laptop covered with half-chewed turkey sandwich, in need of a tissue twice as badly.

Variations of this story occur throughout my day and seem to eat up most of my work/life-organizing time.

It seems the more convenient modern post-industrial life becomes, the more it speeds up, and the more all of us run around pulling our hair out trying to figure out why we never get anything done.

If anyone has any advice about this, let me know. Although I'm pretty sure if I can get that damn lobster menstruating, that's half the battle right there.

RedEye special contributor Stephen Markley is the author of "The Great Dysmorphia" and "Publish This Book."

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