The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File

Lest you think that this writer has it all together, and speaks, Jove-like, from a mountain of organized calm, let me confess that it took years for me to get on the system.

After reading "Sidetracked Home Executives", I had all the symptoms of S.H.E.™-itis: I raced past the important stuff in order to get to the cute little card part!

What got me--and my whole life--on the system for good was publication of The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File, Pam and Peggy's third book. The Happiness File, or HF, is a bonanza of organizing ideas and principles. My copy is dog-eared and spine-busted, and I read it again, in it's entirety, about every four months. And I still haven't tried everything!

Other essays will cover many concepts from the Happiness File, including On My Mind lists, Immediate Action cards, Journal cards and Daily Routine Cards. Today, we'll look at how to adapt the S.H.E.™ file system to any other life arena: work, play, civic or crafts!

You begin, as you did with your Home Executive system, with an hour of uninterrupted time, any necessary props (CEO's list: coffee, snack, Perry the teddy bear), your S.H.E.™ notebook, calendar, cards and card file. Follow me as I organize one of my volunteer jobs for the next year.

Start with an activity list, just as you did with your home. I'll be publicity chairman of my church Women's Guild, so my activity list would include Guild board meetings (monthly), Guild membership meetings (monthly), press releases to the church newsletter and local newspapers before our major fundraisers. Write down each job, and the frequency (or date) on which it must be done on a sheet of notebook paper.

When the Activity List is complete, it's time to make cards! I use orange for "special projects", so all my Guild cards will be orange. Making cards for board meetings and general meetings is easy: I make one card, and write the dates of each meeting in the upper-left-hand corner. As each meeting comes and goes, I'll file the card behind the divider for the next scheduled meeting.

Newsletter press releases? That's easy, too. I know (or find out) that the deadline is five days before publication, so I make a card for "Draft and Deliver Press Release". I write all THOSE dates in the upper-left-hand corner of the card. I'll fill in a time estimate in the upper-right-hand corner: 30 minutes.

It's with those big jobs--announcing our major fundraisers--that I'll save myself some time. I make an orange card that says "Draft and Fax Fundraiser Release". Time estimate: 2 hours. Date is set for five weeks before each event. On the back of the card, I write the contact, phone and fax numbers for every media outlet I want to reach. File the card under the first date.

As the year gets underway, I'll have my volunteer work in order. When each board meeting is over, I cross off the date on the "Board Meeting" card, and re-file. I won't miss any deadlines because my "newsletter release" card will come up in plenty of time. And the chore of writing 10 or 12 press releases will be easier with all the information in hand.

S.H.E.™ isn't just for housework . . . so get organized!