Crossing every item off

In college, I was an incredibly organized student. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was that super OCD freak no one wanted to partner with in groups — you know, the one who sends 1,076 emails a day about pending projects, takes over every activity and generally acts like a bossy mess.

I’m very bossy.

Now, I’ll admit I’ve gotten lax with my duties. I’m a one-woman show at the newspaper where I’ve worked for four years, though I get a tremendous amount of help from my friend and officemate, Sandy. Still, I have my job down to a science: which sections get published on which days; when I need to respond to messages; when I need to write columns.

I’m a machine. Only I have a sweet little heart.

But things are changing. My job is changing. I’m going to be doing the same work — but with new software. I’m losing my office and being moved to another part of the building (le sigh), though I’ll gain a window and view outdoors (awesome).

And all of this is happening just as I’m preparing for a trip overseas — a long trip. The longest I’ve ever been away from work . . . ever.

So I’m stressed. I’m flipping out. I’m trying to learn the new software; box up my entire life at work (lots of junk); going through old paperwork, sorting out what I no longer need and preparing some of my personal possessions for charity; and attempting to get super far ahead on all my sections so that I don’t leave Sandy, my kindhearted friend, in a lurch. She’s covering for me while I’m gone for almost two weeks.

Two. Weeks.

When we were planning this trip, it seemed so far away. Unfathomable, really. We’ve been talking about for months, I got my time approved at work and it all just seemed . . . so distant. I’ve long lived by the mantra that “everything will just work out” — that somehow, some way, things would fall into place.

But I’m leaving in two weeks. For two weeks. And things aren’t just working out.

I’ve been losing sleep, trying to figure out how to get it all done. How to do all my normal work plus my sections for the two weeks I’m gone, which includes writing four 450-word columns. I was thinking about just doing a “Best of ‘Right, Meg?'” and calling it a day, but I don’t want to phone it in.

I’m not that type of person.

As I mentioned, I’m pretty Type A — and OCD. So I’m reverting back to those age-old habits — the ones that sustained me through four years of college, several jobs and a myriad of relationships and obligations. I commuted to the University of Maryland for three years from my home an hour away, and there were many days I went straight from an eight-hour day at school to a six-hour night at work. And then? Then I came home at midnight, made myself some “dinner” and started on homework. And studying. Until the middle of the night.

How did I do it?

Red Bull.

Just kidding. Well — sort of. Caffeine, sure, but more importantly: lists.

I made lists.

Lists of ongoing projects. Lists of current projects. Lists of books I needed to read and by when I needed to have them read. Calendars for school projects, personal projects, work projects. Lists of my calendars. Lists of my classmates and ways to reach them.

Basically, I went psycho. And got organized.

In preparing for the new software, the move and the trip, I’ve covered slips of paper with my scrawly handwriting and scratched my brain thinking of anything I need to remember before I go.

Things I need to buy for the trip.

Topics I need to write about for work.

Books I need to read, review and then schedule to post while I’m away.

Accounts I need to suspend.

It’s endless.

But I enjoy making these lists, friends . . . it helps me sleep at night. It brings me peace. Once I’ve written something down, I don’t need to keep it rattling around in my brain — lest I forget about it.

I can forget about it — until I need to do it, then cross it off my list. And that’s the best thing ever:

Crossing every item off.