I just spent an entire month telling people what I do to try to stay organized—basically baring my cray-cray for the world to see. Showing people your own particular brand of craziness can be intimidating, but I’ve pretty much always been an open book about both my strengths and weaknesses. And trust me, sharing my crazy is far easier than sharing my writing.

But the question of why I do what I do bares scrutiny. Why the lists? The Apps? Aren’t there more important things in the world to worry about than how clean your home is? How much work you do? What you eat and buy?

Well, yeah.

And that’s part of the reason I do what I do. I feel like my work, my writing, my contribution to the world is important. I’m not Elizabeth Gilbert or Cheryl Strayed. My work won’t inspire millions of people around the globe, but I believe that in my own small way, I can make a difference. I believe that my volunteer work has encouraged others to love reading, writing and books, which in turn can have a larger impact on the world. I believe my teaching has, on occasion, inspired. I believe my books, (like all books), can transport others to a different time and place which stretches both their imaginations and their ability to empathize.

I’ve grown more organized as the years have passed, but 2012 was a year of reckoning for me. Cancer has a way of putting everything in perspective and I realized in a very real way if I wanted to give— if I wanted to fulfill my potential as a wife, mother, writer, teacher, friend, daughter, human— I needed to get on with it. Stop putting stuff off.

I needed to do ALL THE THINGS.

In order to do those things, I have to be healthy, and in order to be healthy you have to be proactive, so I started working out and eating right. It’s difficult for me to work in chaos, so I try keep my house tidy and running somewhat smoothly. In order to work efficiently, my mind has to be in good working order, so I meditate, run and garden. I believe to improve my work, I need to further my education, so I study, take workshops and am going back to school. To keep the work from taking over—and oddly, allowing the work to take over isn’t good for the production of work—I make sure to take breaks. I spend time with family and friends, drink good wine, read good books and spend time outdoors.

This is what I mean by ALL THE THINGS. I do all the things so I make sure to do the BIG things—take care of my immediate family and make an impact, however small, on my human family.

ALL THE THINGS is personal to me. It’s a catchall phrase for my life. When I say, I have to do ALL THE THINGS, I really mean I have to live my life. I have to do the work I believe it is in me to do and in order to do the work, I have to organize ALL THE THINGS.