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Kerry McLean: Despite my best efforts, being well organised in the run-up to Christmas Day isn't always a piece of cake

Lists are a big benefit
Lists are a big benefit
Kerry McLean

By Kerry McLean

A friend in work asked me how I was getting on with arrangements for Christmas and I calmly sat back in my seat, smiled smugly and told her how I had everything sorted. A flicker of disgust crossed her face before she returned a thin smile to my wide grin and walked off muttering something about how pleased she was for me.

Now, I know that this friend, like me, has a raft of kids at home to cook and clean for, a mountain of festive cards to write for friends and neighbours and a list, almost as long as Santa's, of people for whom she needs to buy presents, some big, some small but all needing time to find and energy to wrap.

I understand because I'm normally the frazzled one, asking people how well they're doing with their Christmas preparations, not out of some altruistic interest or care for how they're coping but as a means to judge just how far I've fallen behind everyone else when it comes to getting sorted.

But, after last December which felt like a marathon run at a sprinting speed which resulted in my falling asleep on the sofa and snoring through most of Christmas Eve, I vowed that this year I'd do things differently.

Being organised is either something that comes naturally to you or not and I definitely fit in the "not" category. I realised this way back in the dark and distant days when I was at school and studying for my GCSEs.

My best pal was (and still is!) highly self-motivated and I don't think her parents ever had to ask her to do a homework, never mind revise for an exam. I on the other hand felt like I was winning if I not only remembered to complete a homework but actually put it in my bag and give it in to the teacher on time.

It wasn't that I was a bad child or intentionally naughty.

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It's just that I was always a dreamer and easily distracted, elements of my personality I still find hard to control today. Over the years I've developed techniques to ensure that my natural scatty nature doesn't have a negative effect on my work or studies, so much so in fact that I've had colleagues comment on how together I always am. If only they knew!

The secret to my success in terms of being organised for my job and my university course is partly down to my heavy dependence on lists.

I make endless lists, lists about lists, even lists about making lists about lists. I make them on my phone, I copy them out on to paper, I even photocopy them and put them up in different parts of the house to make sure I don't forget to do something vital.

I also keep two day to day diaries, one on paper, one online that tells me where and what I should be doing every minute of every day. It means that it's unusual for me to drop the ball and get something badly wrong but it does happen and the area of life that it usually happens in is my home life.

It stands to reason that if you're holding the reigns so tightly in one part of your life that another part might suffer. My thinking is that while my boss at work might be less forgiving of my forgetting to turn up to work a shift, or my lecturer might make short shrift of any excuse I might offer for why an essay hasn't been handed in, my family and friends, knowing what I'm truly like, might be more forgiving.

At least, that's what I'm hoping because it was only as I made my way through this past week that I realised the party I'd planned for my daughter's fourth birthday yesterday might not be an out and out success.

I'd forgotten to order her cake. Easily managed with a quick trip to the supermarket and my dodgy icing skills. What wasn't so easy to ignore was the fact I'd forgotten to send out any invitations. Not one. But luckily, when you're four all you care about is getting your presents.

At least, that's what I told myself as the smug smile slid from my face...

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