Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Know organization, know efficiency

In a previous post, I wrote about the difference between efficient order (organized) and visual order (neat).  Most of us like things to look neat, but perhaps we'd rather have things working smoothly instead. So, what IS efficient?

EF FIC ENT (/I’ fiSHent/, adjective)
·         (especially of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
·         preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource. 

‘Nuff said.  This is the epitome of organization – finding what you need, when you need it with the least amount of effort.  Also, I love the use of “wasted” and “wasteful” here.  Some folks think that getting or staying organized is overrated and not worth the trouble.  In some cases, I agree and understand the value of a mess.  There is a point where more organization does not make you more productive - that's the law of diminishing returns.  On the flip side, some effort (or expense) to organize generates greater productivity, where “a little bit goes a long way.” 

For example, you have a lot of crayons and you make use of a clear box to corral them all.  The amount of effort used to maintain that system is fairly minimal and effective; it only takes tossing the crayons back into the box and putting that box back with the other art stuff.  Done.  However, if you insist on arranging the crayons in ROY-G-BIV order followed by shortest to longest – the system becomes overkill.  Adding those extra steps makes it harder and decreases productivity, which in turn can make us less inclined to stay organized in the long run.  Efficiency is all about doing the most with the least.

**This graph just shows my thoughts, no scientific inquiry was done to construct it**

It can be a very thin line to walk.  Sometimes, adding extra steps helps make better use of other resources such as space or money even though it costs you more time or energy (such as shredding or recycling unwanted documents).  Other times, those steps aid in making things neater, but not necessarily more efficient (like making sure all the magazine spines are facing the same way in their basket).  Honestly, I have always struggled with this concept.  While I love making things tidy and pretty, I have to remember that neatness is not a pre-requisite for organization. 

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that organizing just makes things neater with full of stacked and labeled plastic tubs in (insert your room of choice).  I beg to differ.  Organizing should aim to make our lives more productive.  Maybe we should focus on using organizing tools as a means to an end, such as having more time to relax, more time to learn a language, more money to give to others, or more space to enjoy your favorite hobby.

Here are a few reasons why we should try to make friends with organizing:

1)      to become better stewards of our valuable assets (time, money, space, energy, natural resources)
2)      to enable us to be more productive and reach our goals
3)      to lessen the pains of stress, unpreparedness, and uncertainty
4)      to make our daily lives simpler

Are there some areas in our lives that could use some more productivity?  How about less wastefulness?  
For me, I am taking a hard look at how I spend my time in the mornings.  Left to my own devices, the morning hours would be wasted away doing nothing of critical value towards my goals.  Part of this problem relates to my energy levels peaking in the afternoon and early evenings.  However, that does not mean I should consistently waste those minutes – I’ve been blessed with them, so I need to put them to good use.  So I’m going to try my hand at being more productive in the mornings, so stay tuned – hopefully it will be a positive post!

How have you brought more efficiency to your life?  

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