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Organization and Productivity Begin with Gratitude

I'm messy, a huge procrastinator, and I forget things all the time. I'm also hard on myself for not reaching my goals as fast as I can dream them up. And somehow, I have accomplished so much. Friends and family often ask me, how do you do it all? I believe that organization and productivity are not a destination but a constant journey. And, it begins with gratitude.


Stress, anxiety, fear, disappointment, etc., are uncomfortable and even overwhelming to experience. When I feel that way, I try to remember that these emotions have a purpose. I take a moment to reflect on what these feelings may be trying to tell me.

So when I feel stressed, for example, I try to stop self-deprecating (so hard to do.) I breathe and acknowledge the feeling. I thank my body for sending me a signal that maybe I should slow down.

To-Do Lists

When I figure out what my body is trying to tell me, I reorganize my thoughts, goals, projects, and tasks according to what I learned. I create "To-Do Lists." Yes, I have more than one to-do list.

I have a list for each area in my life: Home, Job, MAQUINA 37, and Me. For each area, I list specific projects I would like to tackle. Then, under each project, I write small tasks that I need to complete to achieve that project. Whenever possible, I even write down how much time that task might take to complete.

For example, I would like to launch a new t-shirt collection (an actual project for MAQUINA 37). Here are some tasks I wrote down for this project:

  • Brainstorm ideas (one hour)

  • Create ten rough sketches

  • Develop Five of your favorite sketches

  • Ask your friends, family, and customers for their feedback on the designs

  • Choose the best three designs

  • Order samples of the designs on t-shirts (15 minutes)

  • Develop a marketing campaign and schedule for your new t-shirts (two hours)

  • Photograph the t-shirts on real people

  • Launch your marketing campaign

  • Post your t-shirt on your website for sale! (one hour)

I may have simplified the tasks for the example, but you get the idea. I keep my lists on the app "Things" for Mac, but there are plenty of apps that can help you get and stay organized.

I put self-care on my project list. Putting it on the list made self-care necessary. It made me challenge myself to meditate, exercise, and even schedule regular therapy sessions. It helped me feel less guilty about taking care of myself. And I learned that taking care of myself makes me better at accomplishing my goals.


I also discovered that a routine is helpful. When I get to work in the morning, I check my list of tasks for the day. I try to "eat the frog first," as they say. It means I tackle to most challenging task first. Then I will reward myself with a fun task.

About half an hour before I leave the office, I stop and study my list. What did I accomplish? What do I still need to do? And what new projects and tasks have I added? I've noticed that I feel more focused and less stressed when I take time out to prepare.

Begin Again

I'm not perfect, and every day is different. I may spend too much time on a fun task. Or maybe I didn't get to cross off anything on my list today because something more urgent came up. When this happens, and I feel uncomfortable, I take a deep breath and begin again with gratitude.


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