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I Prefer Organized Chaos!
I Am My Own Worst Enemy
Where is that piece of paper? I just had it. I just had in my hand less than five minutes ago! Where the heck did it go? It’s got to be here somewhere! Ugh! I hate it when I do that!
If that was something happened every once in a great while, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Everyone loses something every now and then. But for me, well that is a regular occurrence. Organization, or lack thereof, is a constant battle for me.
I hide it well. I actually have quite the got-it-all-together reputation. But between you and me, I’m a fraud. Just take one look at the chaos I refer to as a desk, and you’ll know the truth. The truth is I spend a lot of time looking for something I’ve lost, remembering something I’ve forgotten, or creating something I’ve already created.
Self-awareness is a lost art in this day and age. In this, however, I am all too self aware. I am under no illusions as to my limitations in this area. I am an artist, after all. Creative minds aren’t always the most organized ones. While I prefer to work in my strengths, I know that this is a weakness that can – and will – be conquered; at least to some extent.
I know myself well enough to know that I will never be the type who has all my pens and pencils lined up by size and color. I will never color coordinate post-it notes, to-do-lists, or files. (I’ve tried color coordinating files, but it never works out. I like color, so I use color, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it.) In fact I look at those OCD type people who always have their ducks in a row with a mixture of unadulterated awe and nauseous horror. In fact, if you happen to be one of them, you can stop reading this. I appreciate your having read this thus far, but really, you won’t understand; it’s okay. While I know my organizational limitations, I have learned to overcome my organizational deficiencies enough to at least become the fraud that I am.
Why Do I Do It?
Why do I need to be organized at all? Well, I’ve learned that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If I spend all of my time re-tracing my steps because I’ve lost something, then I’ve missed the point. I’m a good worker; a hard worker, so I don’t want to have to re-do something that I’ve already spent a lot of time on. If it’s worth doing, and it’s worth doing well, then it’s worth remembering where it is.
I also really love people. I would rather sit and drink a cup of coffee with you than anything else. My favorite days are the ones where I get to sit in meaningful conversations with interesting people. I like to get to know them. I want to know what their hopes and dreams are. I want to know how they got where they are and why they do the things they do. I’ve learned, however, that my love for people won’t matter much if I forget their phone number. They won’t care how much I care about them if I forget to meet them. My love for them does not shine through if I don’t follow up with someone. I’ve learned that my lack of organizational skills can be misconstrued for lack of care. If the people in my life are that important to me, then I need to have some sort of organization to keep up with them.
I’ve also noticed that organizational skills can often be the difference between mediocrity and success. My relational people skills won’t matter as much if I don’t have the aptitude to back them up. Organization is what sets people apart. It’s what can give you that edge and make you shine. It’s how you can love people and display competency at the same time. It’s how you get entrusted more and more to do the work that you love to do.
How Do I Do It?
How do I trick people into thinking I’m more organized than I really am? Well, knowing myself as I do, I’ve learned to bring my creative strengths to the equation. I’m actually very good at creating organization; I’m just not good at maintaining it. I can come up with a phenomenal method for keeping everything in line, but if I don’t keep it up, then it’s worthless. Knowing this, I’ve learned to re-create organization often.
The creating part is actually fun for me. It’s refreshing. It keeps things new. If I look at it as an art, instead of a project, then I’m more likely to do it well. I may be deluding myself, but if it works, that’s okay. This is how I can create something that looks very organized and how I’ve often wowed people with my organizational skills. When that happens, I just smile to myself. They don’t need to know anything else.
I’ve also learned that I really prefer organized chaos. That basically means I like having piles of things that only I know what they are and what’s in them. Because of this, I make sure that there are some areas in my life that won’t be touched by organization. Who cares that my closet is a mess? Who cares that my books at home are tucked into various nooks and crannies? I relish in keeping control of these chaotic areas. That’s what keeps me sane.
If you are anything like me, if you have trouble keeping track of details, papers, meetings, notes, phone numbers, doctor’s appointments, children, don’t worry, there is hope. You too can overcome your own disorganization. You too can learn to dazzle, shine, and pull off that professional edge. However, you’ll have to do it your own way, because another thing I’ve learned is that the organizational systems that work for those OCD people, won’t work for us – at least not long term. We can’t conform our creativity to someone else’s constraints. The very idea is suffocating. I do, however, have a few suggestions to offer:
- Think about what’s really important. Where would organization be the most beneficial to you and the things that are important to you? Concentrate on those areas.
- Spend about 15 minutes a day focusing on what you need to do in those important areas.
- Write things down – in one place. Keep one notebook that you carry everywhere and write everything in it. If you lose it, you’re screwed, so guard it with your life.
- Don’t stress over it. This is how God made us. Embrace who you are and don’t apologize for it. Learn to laugh at yourself – it’s okay.
- Develop routines. Repetition will help you to not forget the details. Soon certain tasks will come naturally.
- Block out sections of time to work on the mundane tasks that you hate. If I waited until I felt like it, a lot of things wouldn’t get done at all. Suck it up and get it done.
- Try different systems. Read the books and articles that the OCD people of this world put out there to try to fix us. Read them, try them out, but keep them in perspective. What works for one does not mean it will work for all. Keep the parts that work for you and discard the rest. You may end up working with a mix of different systems. That’s okay.
- Don’t try to organize everything. You won’t like it. You won’t keep it. It will only bring you stress and anxiety.
- Take a deep breath. Smile. Don’t let the organized people in your life make you feel inferior. In fact, just for fun, go ahead and mess up their pencils when they aren’t looking. Watching them freak out will be very, very satisfying.