My life runs on excel spreadsheets printed on cardstock paper folded into thirds

I don’t know how you organize your life. I’m trying to figure out how to organize mine. Here’s what I’ve figured out over the past eight months.

Every week, I print off a piece of cardstock paper. I fold this paper into thirds. Then, it lives in my back left pocket. By the end of the week, it’s been highlighted, crossed out, notated, and torn at the edges from following me around for seven days. Sometimes, there are fewer things on it. Sometimes there are more things on it. Normally, it’s a wash. At the end of the week, I edit the file and print off another one.

this is the front half of four weeks of my life. i’m bad at shushing.

this is the front half of four weeks of my life. i’m bad at shushing.

Cardstock paper, like all paper, has two sides.

On the front is my life at large. That’s songs. That’s cooking. That’s groceries and laundry and steadily putting off finding a counselor or therapist each week (but I’m getting around to it, Sam Craighead, I promise). That’s finding bands to listen to and things to journal about. That’s tracking shows to book, songs to arrange, and questions to ask the people who know more about some things than I do. That’s friends to reach out to that I haven’t seen in real life for too long. And those are the small daily habits that I’ve noticed help me stay healthy mentally and physically from day to day. These are all the small bits and pieces that add up to a nice little life to share with the good folks around me. And these are the consistent steps we take to make the world better for the people we may or may not ever meet.

On the back is my work life. That’s the stuff I do on a small team at an education nonprofit that affords me the means to do the stuff on the opposite side. Sometimes they line up quite nicely. I’m fortunate to have a steady job doing mostly good and helpful things for K-12 students in Ohio and beyond. When that shines through and works out - amazing.

But work can also be work. And a job can be a job somedays. Just like a passion can become a chore if you’re ever going to finish something and put it out. We work through the gross unfun bits in service of the broader aim that laid out in the first place.

And also, we have to pay rent every month to Mike. That’s the kicker of the other side of the cardstock.

It’s also worth noting that every week, I use the work printer and work paper to print these weekly companions out. So, even in that sense, the other half literally would not have the paper or ink to be printed without the work side.

also, the sun keeps the lights on. thanks, the sun.

also, the sun keeps the lights on. thanks, the sun.

But, the thing is - Work Sam doesn’t run the show. He just keeps the lights on.

When I’m at work, I carry around all of the things that I care most about in my back left pocket. At any time, in any place, I can flip over this little piece of paper and remind myself that I’m more than the person at that particular time in that particular room. And I can remember the people I care about and the art I’d like to make with them. And I can remember the things I’d like to learn more about and the art I’d like to support and the unjust things I’d like to play a small role in making a bit more just. And at home and out in the world, I carry around a reminder of the things that I did and want to do.

We overestimate what we can do in a week. We underestimate what we can do in a decade. And decades are made up of years. And years are made up of months. And months are made up of weeks. And weeks are made of excel spreadsheets on cardstock paper folded into thirds. And I keep mine in my back left pocket.

This week, I wore all of my hats. I wore my songwriter hat, my education nonprofit hat, my performer hat, my friend hat, my booker hat, my listener hat, and my “life is bursting at the seams in good and bad ways that I don’t fully understand and I’m struggling to see where I fit inside of all of it” hat. (Thank you Alex Paquet for helping me take that hat off and give it a good look-see over curry.)

I also wore my Frontier Ruckus hat because it’s getting colder and they might be my favorite band. They just released their demo archive. You should go listen to things there. We’re working on a new record, and it’s the most comforting thing to hear how some of my favorite songs sounded before they found the clothes that fit them just right.