Not Your Mama’s Guide to Getting It Handled


Raise your hand if you like to:

1) Be the chick that gets it done.

2) Be the gal who has it together.

3) Be the one with all the good wine.

A couple months ago I wrote an article about the importance of creatives getting organized in order to make more space for their creativity. That being said, the kind of organization we need goes beyond making a foolproof filing system. What we need is a way of life that includes good habits, prioritizing our happiness, and open-mindedness (and yes, organization plays a huge role in all these things). As a soon to be new mother, I don’t want to bring my son into a world that says life has to steamroll you. And as a self professed control freak, I want him to know that taking charge can be healthy, but we need to balance it out with the right amount of “seeing what happens.” What better way to teach him than to do it myself?

In other words, we want to handle our days (and whatever may come from them) in ways that are satisfying and fulfilling. And we do that by looking at the big picture, working our way down, and not by being “tasky.”

Tasky implies that you wake up and let the day control you with its many distractions and seemingly important nonsense. Tasky wakes you up in the middle of the night with a sudden urge to remind yourself to pay the phone bill or it’ll be late. Tasky means wearing Last Night’s Outfit again after you left Today’s Outfit in the washer because you had to answer the call of your inbox. Right that minute.

Tasky controls you.

Good thing we are real creatives.

We don’t do tasky. We handle it.

A few years ago I was not handling it. The days, hours, and minutes controlled me. I was suffocating and I couldn’t figure out why. I was planning the wedding of my dreams to my best friend and though I was thrilled one minute, I was panicking the next. My career was stalled, my creativity held captive, my health in shambles, and my days running so far ahead of me that I struggled to pick up the pieces let alone get things done.

Then this happened to me.

For those who don’t have time to read the full story (and let’s be honest, I’m a little long winded so who really does?), here it is in a nutshell:

I had a panic attack while Kurt was at work and decided to go for a walk. While walking through the suburban streets, I had a weird mediative experience that kept me alert enough not to get hit by a car, but swept me up enough in my imagination that I met a sweater-vest-top-hat wearing toad. The little guy and I talked about my fears and my hopes (aka, I finally allowed myself to think about what those things were) and by the time I got home I was refreshed, motivated, and ready for some wine. A lot of wine.

We all have moments of clarity (meditative or otherwise) at some point or another. Mine just happened to involve a very proper and well dressed amphibian.

For the last several years, I’ve been following my own version of goal setting, organization, and mindfulness that has lead to more time for my creativity, a better marriage, a better understanding of myself, a happy life, and more importantly…the tools I need when I feel out of control. Or tasky.

So this month and next, I am going to share the steps I take in my Hey Toad Project (see what I did there?) to handle life the way I want to (and the the way life expects me to when it throws…well, life at me.)

Here are the first three steps of the Hey Toad Project (for more details and to see how I did it, click on each step’s link):

Step One: This is A Story of a Girl

Create this story in whatever fashion makes sense to you, but keep it in a place that can be revisited or even on full display. Read it every day, every week, or every month to remind yourself what you are working for. To get you back on track. This can (and should) take on whatever form works best for you and your learning preference. For example, if you are auditory then record your story. If you are visual, create a vision board. If you are obsessed with reading, write it down. Imagine yourself several decades from now. What did your life look like? What did you accomplish? What are you enjoying now? Where do you live? What does your family look like? What does your career look like? Your creativity? Your perfect day?

Step Two: Good Habits Set aside 15-20 minutes (or longer if you’re on a roll) and brainstorm all the different good habits you’d like in your life. This can include everything from flossing every night to writing every day to calling your mom once a week. No one is here to judge. This list is just for you so make it as long as you want. Once you are done brainstorming, go back through and mark the frequency of each habit (daily, weekly, bimonthly, monthly, etc). Save this for later.

Step Three: Goal List

Group your life into categories. Example: Health and Fitness, Career and Work, Relationships, Finances, Spirituality, etc. In each of these groups, list as many goals you would like to strive toward. These goals can be achieved anytime in your lifetime. They can be small or massive. Either way, write them down.

Next month we are going to break down these three steps and see how we can put them into our daily lives. And ultimately? Handle it.