DEAR HARRIETTE: I am extremely disorganized, and it’s catching up with me. I just scheduled three meetings that overlap each other. I can’t believe I did that, but it’s true. They are all personal, after-work meetings, but still. My friends feel like I don’t care about them. My work is crazy busy, and I am so tired that I have been forgetful about keeping a good schedule. What should I say to my friends, and how can I get better organized? -- Too Much to Handle
DEAR TOO MUCH TO HANDLE: I keep a calendar and daily schedule that includes everything that is important to me, including personal responsibilities. When I am at the top of my game, I make my list the night before. I plan out my day, and often my week, so that I know how I will order my steps upon waking. I include such list items as "meditate," "drink water," "go to the gym," "call Mama," and all of my work items. I also do my best to record meetings the moment I make them. Even if the meeting starts out as tentative, I write it down with a question mark. That holds the space and alerts me to pay attention before I fill it with something else.
If and when you slip up, which is possible for even the most organized person, apologize immediately. Just know that apologies work best when behavior changes. If you keep doing the same thing that inconveniences other people, your apologies will begin to ring hollow.