I’ll admit that I’m not the most organised person. My system for keeping on top of life consists of little reminders, scattered around the house like confetti. These notes litter my surroundings, and you can find my whereabouts by following a trail of paper crumbs.

Some of them are reminders to pay bills, or run errands, but most of them are sketches for innovative concepts …

Let’s put modesty aside for a moment while I tell you that the ideas on those pieces of paper are genius. They always come to me in a moment of insight, as though the clouds have opened and inspiration has rained directly from the golden sky and into my brain.

I’m struck this inspiration at random times, like when I’m sleeping, eating, or watching Breaking Bad. When the ideas come, I find the nearest pen and papery-type material, and without taking my eyes off the TV show, or my dinner, or the back of my eyelids (if I happen to be napping), I jot down the stream of thoughts.

Grandiose schemes! Awesome designs! Pulitzer-prize-winning visions!

Which is great. But there’s one small problem …

Later, when I take the time to read over my notes, I have no f@#&ing idea what they mean.

You see, I’m usually too busy and disorganized to bother with trivialities such as legibility. So when I find these notes later, it’s like I’ve woken up with a hangover and a poor memory of what when down in my semi-conscious stupor. The only thing I have to go by is a string of cryptic hints.

‘Go Wednesday 3 x Spaghetti.’

‘Ah-haha! It’d be so funny if £Tüî†aa∆k.’

‘Urgent! Change bit in book where man dinghy mango.’

‘Dog Kindle.’

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what this girl, Torre, was thinking when she crafted this code language. Surely she was trying to say something genius? And more importantly, why do I refer to my more intelligent side in the third person?

When I can’t figure it out, the notes are thrown away, and my ideas for world domination are lost forever.

It’s sad, really. I should be more organized. In my ideal world, I’d have a favorite notebook which I’d wear on a string around my neck. We’d never part, not even to bathe (and especially not while watching Breaking Bad). My notebook would have thick sheets, and with my giant feathered quill, I’d capture every idea in beautiful script with over-stated curlicues. The journal would be bound with Indian Jones leather, and it’d smell like horse saddle, newspapers, fresh linen, and fond childhood memories.

Then, my life would be neat and orderly. My brilliant ideas would be captive in the pages of a book, not fluttering around the room like a suicidal moth, bashing into windows, exploding wing dust and brains all over the place.

For now, my kamikaze ideas lie crumpled in drawers, or stuck to the bottom of my shoe, tacked on by someone else’s gum.

So when a new invention comes out—like the iPhone—I wonder: did someone just find my Post-it note for that idea on the bottom of their shoe? And will ‘Dog Kindle’ soon be the latest bestselling gizmo?!

You see, I know that deep inside of me, there’s a genius trying to get out and that maybe, if the uncooperative person on the outside could be a little more organized, she’d buy herself a nice notebook, archive the incredible ideas, and then win an award for greatness. A Nobel Prize, most likely.

But I think that I’ll stay notebook free and disorganized, because life’s much more fun when you get to indulge the fantasy that you’re a closet genius.

How do you stay organized? Do you keep all your ideas in one place, or do you carry your genius ideas around on the bottom of your shoe?

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24 Response Comments

  • Tatiana  August 25, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Me and my grandmother share a white erase board where we write down things we want to accomplish. So I change it as I accomplish each thing, and gives me an idea of what I want/need to do.

    Also, when I’m out, I actually bought a small notebook that I put into my purse to jot down ideas and other errands. I also used it for keeping track of where I applied for AmeriCorps (who I spoke to, what I did to advance my application, etc). It’s been infinitely helpful – as I also always carry pens with me too.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 25, 2011 at 2:51 am

      A whiteboard? Wow, you are organized! If I had a whiteboard, it would probably be covered in sketches of dogs playing with Kindles. 🙁

      • Tatiana  August 25, 2011 at 4:25 am

        LOL. Aw. :3 It’s not too hard to be organized. Like you, i think all my ideas are (fairly) brilliant and want to write everything down. And I love to buy tiny journals and books at B&N – so it was a great compromise. 😀

        It’s not too hard to be organized. I think finding a system that works best with how you work naturally is best. I love writing on write boards, and I’m also very goal-oriented. If I don’t know what I want to achieve with something that I do, then I’m not going to go do it. So being organized helps me set and prioritize goals/results.

  • Charley @Secret_Water  August 25, 2011 at 6:06 am

    I’m in the process of moving house and keep coming across various notebooks, pieces of paper, business plans, “ideas books” and general plans for “world domination”. When I move into my new slightly bigger house of course I will be more organised! Its strange, when I’m on a boat I find it easy to stay ship shape and bristol fashion in everything I do. Sadly on Terra Firma I slip into bad habits. My latest attempt to be tidy and organised involves what I call “krud krates”. Basically scoop up everything that is strewn around (including ideas paperwork) goes into the crate for sorting at a later date when I might happen to be feeling efficient!

    • Torre DeRoche  August 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Yes, I totally relate! I was organized while living on a boat—I could handle that small space. But living in a house with lots of cupboards and drawers means too much space for clutter to build. I like your Krud Krates. Did you get those from IKEA?

      • Charley @Secret_Water  August 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

        I think I got them from bunnings. They are white with very tiny holes in the sides so you can’t see all the krud 🙂

    • Karen  August 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      We recently lived out of suitcases at my mum’s house for a few weeks. I agree, the less stuff you have, the fitter – leaner – your ideas and life. Everything seems crystal clear. Back home again, all of my big ideas look a little flabby. Maybe I should move the fam to a boat? 😉

      • Torre DeRoche  August 26, 2011 at 3:37 am

        Move into your Kombi van, Karen. You’ll be very organized in there.

  • Alexis Grant  August 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Ha. As I was reading this, I looked at my Post-It-filled desk! So many good ideas in this stack. Later today I’ll go through and organize these Post-Its, transferring them to my digital idea files. I use http://teuxdeux.com for a list, and http://evernote.com for notes/random ideas. Helps tremendously!

    • Torre DeRoche  August 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Ooh, thanks! Evernote may just change my life. 🙂

  • Rohan  August 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I love Breaking Bad! 😀

    • Torre DeRoche  August 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      Are you on season 4? So good.

      • Rohan  August 26, 2011 at 9:02 am

        I am indeed! 🙂

  • Steve Roy  August 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    This is so funny because I have the exact same problem. I have sticky notes, scraps pf paper, notes on my cell phone, and a notebook I carry around. Half the time I have no idea what I wrote because I either forgot what I was trying to remember or I can’t read my writing.

    Time to get more organized myself…thanks

    • Torre DeRoche  August 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm

      It’s not easy being a genius. 🙂

      “Time to get more organized myself.”—Oh, the number of time’s I’ve made this exact declaration!

  • Karen  August 25, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I started a blog as a way to take my note taking up a notch. To graduate from doodling on post its and render my ideas in all their digital glory. The irony is that now I have a blog, I’ve become more organised with my ideas. I have notebooks in my handbag – one for writing, one for ideas, and one for Life (errands, lists, etc). I also have bigger notebooks for writing, for the blog, and for general tinkering.
    I think the key is letting the ideas be half baked. I think you can still nurture the genius fantasy by keeping the confetti of ideas within the binding of a notebook.
    I LOVED this post. The doodles made it for me. Yes, the doodles.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 25, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      My whole problem is that every time I have an idea, my notebook is missing. Do you keep your notebooks in the same place? Do you carry all 4 of your notebooks in your handbag?

      (I knew you’d like my doodle, Karen.)

      • Karen  August 26, 2011 at 12:36 am

        I think of notebooks like baby wipes: you can’t have enough. Have some in the car, some in the handbag, some at home.
        Basically I have 3 categories of notebook: Life, Writing, Ideas. Little notebooks (teeny tiny) for all 3 in the handbag for mobility, and bigger ones for each at home for fleshing out bigger ideas. I tried to just have one in the handbag, but it got really messy.

        • Torre DeRoche  August 26, 2011 at 12:39 am

          Smart. I have 48 notebooks with only 3 pages filled out in each. I like the idea of categorizing them: Life, Writing, Ideas.

  • Chris Walker-bush  August 26, 2011 at 3:33 am

    I laughed out loud reading this. We have a lot in common in some ways, haha.

    I have about a dozen of those leather bound notebooks and similarly extravagant designs. I think I like collecting them almost as much as I like having them to scribble notes in.

    The only drawback? I feel like an idea has to be organized to go into them! So half of the time I don’t write a single thing in them :-/ I need to get some post-its, clearly.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 26, 2011 at 3:36 am

      I know, Chris, I have the same problem! I own the most beautiful leather-bound journal that was given to me by a friend. How can I possibly consider sullying the pages with my chicken scrawl? Post-it notes are best for me. 🙂

  • Toni  August 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I have a ‘virtual stick pad’ i.e. my Blackberry where I wake up in the middle of the night or half asleep etc and I type it in thinking I’ll get to it in the morning. The problem is that, in the morning, not only does it not make any sense like yours but the auto-correct has kicked in and before you know it I’ve got sentences like ‘kick photos barney’ and it takes me DAYS to work it out…dreadful!

  • Annette | Bucket List Journey  August 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I love Tatiana’s white erase board idea, but I too, have notes scattered everywhere! My husband says that I need to create a list to keep track of all my lists. Though I do manage to transfer most of it to a handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet.

  • Neil Skywalker  March 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

    wow, your notes are harder to figure out than mine. After decrypting yet another hieroglyphic note I decided to take the time to really write down what I had in mind. This works so much better, especially when coming up with scenes for the screenplay I’m writing.

    Just out of curiosity, you say you’re book is being filmed. Did you write the screenplay yourself? ( I’m going through your archives now so this question may already have been answered. I have yet to read an article that I don’t like. You’re a very skilled writer touching the right topics. Keep it coming!)



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