Organization can be a bit tough with a Chronic Illness and a symptom of “Brain Fog”, but taking the extra time to set yourself up for success can pay off. In this episode, Lupe discusses how she organizes for Work & School.

Organization can be a bit tough with a Chronic Illness and a symptom of “Brain Fog”, but taking the extra time to set yourself up for success can pay off. In this episode, Lupe discusses how she organizes for Work & School.

Sjogren’s Strong

Lupe & Brian:     Welcome to another episode of Sjogren’s Strong.

Lupe:     This is Lupe.

Brian:    And this is Brian.

Lupe:     And today we are going to talk about setting yourself up for success.

Brian:    And she’s going to be recounting what she’s been doing the last few months with the added workload in her life, that has helped her not miss meetings, not miss important dates, find things rapidly when she needs them. So why don’t you take it away.


Lupe:     And you know, this goes for everybody, whether you have Sjogren’s, you know, it’ll help regardless.

Brian:    And what it boils down to is some basic organizational skills, some basic time management skills, but you know, we’ve all had those off days where you forget something and that pains me. I hate to forget a phone call, a Webinar, a date, a function, anything. It just bothers me because there’s no excuse. I have tools and if I utilize them properly I will never forget. So what tools have you implemented?

Lupe:     What I love using are tabs or Post it’s to organize myself. What I really use at work is my calendar. I log meetings, phone calls, conference calls, due dates for PO’s or whatever it is. I like using the digital calendar on the computer. And I also have a notebook with, you know, to do notes and really like a Franklin Covey, right? I write him down on a sheet of paper and as I’m done with them I kind of cross him out and if I don’t finish them that day, I just move them over to the following day.

Brian:    And it’s taken me a very, very long time to transition from a paper calendar to a digital calendar or to do. And I’ve successfully done that. It’s been five weeks now without my paper planner. However, I do take my paper planner when I go to meetings because I think it’s rude to sit in a meeting and type notes on your phone. I always wonder what people are doing on their phone when they’re doing that in a meeting. So I just think it’s a little disrespectful. So I write on paper.

Lupe:     Yeah, right. Are you on Facebook? Are you on social media? What are you really doing on your phone?

Brian:    Exactly? So I still have a paper planner. I still carry it, but it’s just line, ruled paper now. And then when I come back from a meeting like that, I then transition action items to my to do list and any pending dates, completion dates, due dates on to my digital calendar.

Lupe:     I’ve tried not using an actual calendar and then just using the digital calendar and I can’t do it.

Brian:    It takes some consistent practice and a discipline to accomplish it. But with Google calendar now I’m bummed that they no longer send SMS reminders. Back in the day they used to send a text message, you could ask it to send you a text message. Now you can just set up for emails.

Lupe:     You been using it that long. I used to send you a text messages?

Brian:    That long. It’s cool if you have a phone call Friday at 3pm you can set it up as a calendar invite and then you can say, send me an email a day before, one hour before, 10 minutes before and as long as you’re at your computer and checking your email during the work day, um, you won’t miss that email and you won’t miss that meeting.

Lupe:     You know what I’ve noticed, maybe it’s just me, but like if I have a doctor’s appointment, um, can you say it like half an hour, a couple of hours before your actual appointment? Because for me it does it like the day before and maybe I just don’t know how to change it. But anyways.

Brian:    Well, I will show you how, because you can actually set multiple reminders…. a week before, two days before. How do you think I never forget your birthday?

Lupe:     That’s rude. I thought you just loved me so much that you just automatically knew.

Brian:    I love you so much that I set it in my Google calendar to send me an email two weeks before, one week before, two days before and the day before.

Lupe:     And here I thought it was pure love, rude.

Brian:    Hey, taking the time to set that up is love.

Lupe:     I guess.

Lupe:     You know how I remember yours?

Brian:    How?

Lupe:     4th of July. Everybody celebrates your birthday.

Brian:    Everybody’s celebrating on the 4th. But no utilizing it for anniversaries, birthday, anything that you don’t want to forget. Set those reminders . And not just Google calendar. Most calendaring systems use it. Um, if you have a smart phone, you can utilize that calendar and you can access the voice commands and say, “Hey Siri, set a new calendar event”.

Siri:        What date and time is disappointment?

Brian:    And there you have it. It’s that easy nowadays with a smartphone.

Lupe:     So there’s no excuses, right?

Brian:    You know, there is an excuse if you don’t utilize the tool, you’re going to miss.

Lupe:     Yeah. True.

Brian:    So what else have you been doing to help you through juggling these extra balls you’ve put in the air as of late?

Lupe:     So my study materials, I have a four inch three ring binder that was handed to us. Uh, I’d has our study materials. What we’re going to do in school. Homework. The whole shebang. And it’s four inches thick and it’s a lot of chapters.

Brian:    And she even has a pencil holder in it, how cute.

Lupe:     I’m so excited. Cause I’m a student, I’m excited. Yeah. So they handed this to us in packets. One was one package, the other chapter was another packet. And next thing you know, you have 20 packets, right? So I put them all in a binder. So, I tagged the chapters and within the chapter I tabbed the sections of the chapter because some chapters have multiple sections.

Lupe:     The thing I hate the worst is when the instructor says, okay, now go to chapter four and go to section blah, blah, blah, right? And so I find I was wasting too much time flipping through the pages and not being able to find what I needed. So I came home and I tabbed everything.

Lupe:     Now, I noticed tabs with writing on them, but then I noticed a lot of tabs without writing on them and they appear to be post its. What are those about?

Lupe:     Well, okay, so check it. I’m a little frugal. Okay. I don’t like spending money on tabs because depending on where you go, I mean they could get a little pricey, right? And as you can see here, I have a million tabs. So I actually had some tabs already and I divided the chapters. But then some chapters have sections, some have subsections. What has writing on them is the sections within the chapter and the different colors mean different things to me, as well. And then you have a different size tab.

Brian:    It looks like you took a posted and you made little quarter inch strips out of it.

Lupe:     Like I said, a little frugal, right. That’s what I did! Actually, that’s exactly what I did. So the instructor says, you know, they’re talking about, whatever. And then they say, oh, you’re going to see that in a couple of weeks, which means it’s going to be on a test. So, what I do is I got one of those taps that I quartered and I placed it where she said this was going to be on the test. So, not only did I highlight it, I put a post it on it, and so then, you know, when I come home or the following day, I don’t have to go flip through the pages to see what she said because, oh, it’s right there, the tabs. So I just flip to that page.

Brian:    So, spending the amount of time that you’ve spent to create these tabs and section everything off, has the time been worth it?

Lupe:     Now, okay, I know you mentioned to me before, oh my God, you spent a lot of time on organizing. Maybe I’m a little bit OCD. But no, I’m not OCD. What it is, yes, it is worth it to me. So, the front end, it takes me a little while to get myself organized, but in the long run I know exactly where to go to study.

Lupe:     For example, um, we just had our first big test on like seven chapters and I took the time throughout the weeks to actually read the chapters that we did in class. But on top of that, everything that was tabbed, I went into my computer, opened up a word document, and I outlined everything by chapters that the instructor said was going to be on the test. So, I read the chapters at least once. And then I, like I said, I wrote everything on a word document.

Lupe:     And so then, some people think, oh, you know, that’s kind of a waste of time. But is it really? Because you’re transferring notes from your binder to the word document? So that in itself is studying. I believe it is.

Lupe:     So, it takes, it takes a while, you know, to transfer everything, but then you don’t have to be lugging around your binder. You just have like 10, whatever, you know, how many pages do you have, 10-20 pages. That’s what I took with me, everywhere to study.

Brian:    You’ve spent a considerable amount of time putting this system into play. And this isn’t the first time you’ve used this system of tabs, is it?

Lupe:     No, where I work right now, um, like I mentioned before, we have SAP, which is, I don’t know if anybody’s familiar with it, but it’s just a massive.

Brian:    Data management program.

Lupe:     Yeah. And it has everything. Invoices, POD’s, bill of ladings, you name it, it’s here. It tells you exactly where the order is, what’s been done, just everything.

Lupe:     Um, and so I found myself when I first started using SAP, and this is not the first job where I’ve used SAP. But each company uses SAP… I used to work in SAP at a previous company, but not to this level where I’m at right now. You use SAP for everything.

Lupe:     So, as I was learning, I’m the type of person that doesn’t like asking the same question 10 times, right? Because after three times they’re going to get annoyed, right? So, I’m like, okay, explain it to me once and after you explain it to me, I’m going to try to do it myself. Not only am I going to try to figure it out myself, but I am going to create notes and screenshots in the process, write my own notes.

Lupe:     Next thing you know, I had a lot of notes that weren’t really organized. So I found myself, I was flipping through notes, trying to find what I needed to do, when I was learning. And so one day what I did, I brought all my notes home and you know, I already, I used to find her that I already had. And um, it took me like three, maybe four hours to organize all my notes. And again, I created chapters if you will. And I tabbed everything from the name of the transaction, you know, cause everything has a different transaction. SQ01 VA02, I would tab it and then create notes. So yeah.

Lupe:     So, how often do you refer to that binder now? Okay. Now I don’t really refer to it, I was going to say at all, but that’s not true. There are some transactions that I use maybe once a month or once every two, two to three months. So those aren’t fresh in my mind because I don’t use them all the time. So ,those I do refer back to and again, it helps me to have my notes organized cause I don’t like flipping through stuff. I waste too much time and I just, I like to know exactly where to go. I may not know how to do something, but I know how to, where it is and how to get to it quickly.

Brian:    You know, it’s funny, uh, I want to say, my father told me this a long time ago and I’m sure he was, I’m sure he got it somewhere. But basically he said, he asked me, do you know what a smart man is? And I answered no, and he said, you don’t have to know everything, but you have to know where to go to get the answer to everything. And if we equate that to what Lupe has just been sharing with you, it’s imperative that especially if you have a chronic illness to where brain fog or forgetfulness is a factor that you find a system that works for you. Tabbing might not work for you. Utilizing a digital calendar might not work for you, but find that tool or tools that works for you and implement them each and every time that you need to do something or remind yourself of something.

Brian:    And if you put this into practice and you give it 110%, you will find yourself even on a bad day, that you’re not going to forget something. Or if you don’t remember something, you know exactly where to go to find the answer. I think those are the points we wanted to convey with this because her workload’s been taxing. It’s been daunting. She’s been crushing it and she’s trying to make up for some lost sleep on the weekends, but she can’t really even sleep half a day because she’s got to get up and do homework and study and read and all of that. But putting these practices into play, I have personally seen it help her.

Lupe:     And not only for school, you’ve seen it before and you’re like what are you doing? But yeah, I mean look, do you see the stack right here? This is all I have to do for school. How much would you say?

Brian:    This stack she’s referring to is going to be in the image for this episode? Because this is everything that she’s learning, studying, reading for just this one semester and it is it. It’s overwhelming and you’re going to be able to see all the notes and tabs and it looks like a rainbow.

Lupe:     You know what though? I know cause, you mentioned it, and I know that I probably spend a lot of time. I know what you said one time you wasted a lot of time organizing. But to me it’s not wasted time because if I don’t do it my way, I don’t feel organized.

Lupe:     So, I’m trying to study, but it’s bothering me that it’s not organized the way I like it or feel comfortable with it. So in the back of my mind that’s bothering me. So I’m not going to be able to study 100% or do my homework or whatnot until I have my materials, how I like him. And it really helps!

Lupe:     Whether you’re having trouble remembering things or not , find a system that works for you and utilize it every day. Some days are good, some days are bad. If you’re having a bad day, at least you know where to find the answers. Going that extra mile to say yourself up for success will be worth it in the long run.

Lupe:     Until next time, sip constantly and stay hydrated.

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