I’m a person who’s struggled with organization my entire life. I remember being in third grade and desperately wishing I wasn’t too much of a goody-two-shoes to forge my mother’s signature on my assignment pad. While I had completed my assignments, I had done it from memory and forgotten to have her sign the actual book. As I grew up and clinical depression started to eat holes in my memory, I started missing assignments or forgetting assignments, and went from being a perfect, straight-A student to a person who got straight As on tests and mandatory Cs on my late homework. Sure, this dip in grades helped the adults around me identify and diagnose my depression, but that diagnosis didn’t make it any easier to organize and stay on top of my life.
I’m in my thirties now, working an office job, doing a podcast, and writing in my spare time. I have a jam-packed social calendar (trying to schedule hangouts with me has become the epitome of “it’s so hard being pretty and popular!”) and a miniscule amount of free time. I’m still a hopeless mess, but I’m starting, finally, to come up with strategies to get that mess under control. I’m going to turn this month into Get Your Shit Together August and talk about a few of them, from the perspective of a scatterbrained, messy nerd in hopes that other scatterbrained, messy nerds will see that there’s hope, even for them. My life might not be perfectly organized and neat and logical, but, hey, I’m paying my bills on time and that’s not nothing.
Bitches Get Shit Done
One of the first steps in organizing my life and attempting to get my shit together was nearly completely inadvertent. In January 2014, I signed up for Kelly Sue DeConnick’s text-based reminder system, Bitches Get Shit Done, or #bgsd. I did it sort of on a lark—I figured the people who would get the most use out of it would be people who had school deadlines or were working on big creative projects. I have a desk job. A small child could probably do the same work just as easily as I do. It would be cute to get the messages, but I figured they wouldn’t necessarily apply to me.
Oh boy. What a simpler time that was.
But let me back up for a second. While I’m sure 99.99999% of our listenership know who Kelly Sue is, for the remaining .00001% of you, she is a writer (primarily of comic books), business owner, mom, KISS fan, Mama Shark, and in the ranks of Mallory Ortberg and Lin-Manuel Miranda when it comes to imaginary Twitter BFFs. I could go into all of the ways she’s important to me, personally, but I already did that once and accidentally-on-purpose made her cry in public, so just know that she’s someone you should Be Aware Of if you aren’t already.
A few years back, comic book writer and trash of the thing Chris Sebela jokingly agreed to having Kelly Sue periodically text him to nag him to get his work done. It wasn’t a joke and she made good on the threat. After tweeting about it, lots of people expressed interest in having her nag them to get work done, so the Bitches Get Shit Done list was born. It’s a text-based “shotgun blast nagging,” in Kelly Sue’s words–set up through the Remind101 service, a mass text goes out a few times a week with anything from inspirational quotes to firm entreaties to close tumblr and start working to tips on organization and productivity.
It is, for reasons I can’t quite nail down, extraordinarily helpful. Despite the monotony of my work, sometimes I do need that kick in the butt, and despite the fact that the messages come during the 9-5 work day, a lot of them stick with me hard enough that they’re still in my mind when it comes time to open my own creative endeavors at the end of the day. It’s just the right mixture of firm nagging and gentle understanding that creating is hard, achieving your goals is hard, and frequently you’re your own worst enemy. It’s a balance that I’ve been looking for a long time. I do need someone to occasionally glance over my shoulder and nudge me to focus and remind me that I have deadlines and warn me that the only way to get the thing done is to do it. But I also need the reminder to breathe and drink water and take my time and put myself first. I need the nagging, but without the “everyone can do anything they set their mind to, just push through, you’re the only thing holding yourself back from greatness” motivational speaker style encouragement. BGSD is realistic, or at least, realistic to my life. It reflects my attitude, my sense of humor, and the kind of world I want to live in. It’s not a lofty organizational method, it’s not a zen-like lifestyle change, it’s a push to make whatever progress you’re able and encouragement to feel good about that, no matter how small it is
Also, I think Kelly Sue has secret cameras in my cubicle because, goddamn, those messages usually come when I need them the most.
But really, the thing that might be at the heart of the success of BGSD is Kelly Sue herself. The texts feel like they’re coming from a mentor or a friend, from someone who wants you to do your best and really cares about the outcome. More than once I’ve made myself close Two Dots and get working because I didn’t want to let Kelly Sue down by slacking off. She’s not my mom or my boss–I’m a stranger on the internet. Was she going to read my contract report? No. (Is upper management even going to read my contract report? Probably not, let’s be real.) But that lingering sense of something not unlike loyalty keeps me on task, at least for a few minutes, at least long enough to check something off my 2do list.
Does any of this sound at all appealing or helpful to you? Well, you’re in luck—BGSD subscription is always open. To sign up for your very own nagging texts, text @bitchesg to (971) 244-8342. (Standard text changes apply, etc etc) To read a little bit more about the origin of BGSD, check out this post on Kelly Sue’s tumblr. And to get in on the action on Twitter, check out the #bgsd and #bgsdlist hashtags.
And that’s it for today, folks—the first step in sort of kind getting your shit together. Next week: bullet journaling, which is actually WAY less complicated than the bullet journal website wants you to think!