Confession time: organisation is not my forte. Scrap that. I am great at organising stuff, not so great at actually seeing it through.
I believe I'm not alone in this, my research points out that most of my creative friends are somewhere along the spectrum of "poorly organised" to "pure mayhem" (with the exception of a few self-controlled geniuses whom I admire and envy in equal parts). Sadly, I fall in the black whole of the "organisation freak that once everything is in its rightful list, finds it too tedious to look at it ever again".
Thanks to this black hole, I find myself in an endless loop of productivity & chaos, in which the length of each stage can vary greatly depending on the given set of life conditions: that inspiring new movie = productivity, family visits = chaos, warm weather = chaos, boredom = chaos and thankfully, deadlines = productivity.
During the five years I've been working solo I've tried pretty much every miraculous system available, in the hopes of finding a more balanced work life: GTD, Pomodoro and even the now defunct Action Method. There was no miracle.
On the bright side, practice makes perfect right? And so, with every go, my organisation skills are becoming more developed and my mind-maps more intricate. And here comes my delusional moment: I actually think I might have found THE system.
It starts with accepting my wandering attention. Even though I would love to be part of the aforementioned cool gang of productivity wizards, it's not likely that I will ever join their ranks. So after coming to terms with that reality, I tried to manage all the havoc in my head with the help of an army of post-its. From there I was able to identify all the projects open at the moment and all the other areas that need my attention, such as self-improvement and admin stuff. Following Lisa Congdon's advice I built a spread-sheet with the projects, colour coded accordingly to the imminence of the deadline or the bulk of work they require. I consult and refresh that spreadsheet every Sunday, and at the same time I write a list of urgent assignments and hopeful to dos for the week.
After that the only thing I really force upon myself is a 9 to 5 working day. I try to work in chunks of 90 minutes with ample breaks in between them, but I'm not too strict with them, if I'm in the flow I rather stay in the flow. I also don't have set activities for the day or a specific schedule, instead I choose what small task to do in order to accomplish something from the list on the spear of the moment, depending on my mood, energy and concentration levels. Sometimes I end up doing something that wasn't even on the list. Sometimes I take breaks that last 3 hours. And that's ok. Against all odds, I find that it is precisely the lack of structure of my days, the little pressure on accomplishing tasks, goals and objectives what actually helps me be productive and get things done. Of course, when a deadline is looming it takes precedence, so I do what I have to, end of the story.
It may sound backwards but with my track record I'm in no position to poo-poo any system that does it for me. So there it is, it turns out that I've found that my balance between productivity & mayhem lies in organised chaos.