Contrary to popular belief, being organized does not mean you have to be neat.
Shocker? I know. A while back, I read a book entitled “Sorted! The ultimate guide to organizing your life – once and for all” by professional organizer Lissanne Oliver. It’s full of how-to information, with tips on how to start, complete, and maintain the process of organizing all the physical stuff in our lives. Even as a natural-born organizer, this book challenged me to rethink how I view organization. In the introduction, the author asked "What does it mean to be organized?" and then "How do you define neat?" Her answers? Neat is the visual appearance of order, whereas organization is how efficient the order actually is. Simple, yet brilliant.
While reading through the book, I re-evaluated my spaces first and foremost with an eye on efficiency. When looking at a system or space, my list of questions followed in this logic:
1) EFFICIENCY: How easy is it to get to what I need? Can I/we maintain this system with minimal/comfortable effort?
2) QUALITY: Will the setup withstand its designated use? Is it worth investing into higher quality materials?
After the first two questions have been addressed could I tackle the final category:
3) NEATNESS and AESTHETICS: Is it neat? Is it pretty enough or fit into the décor? (Granted, a little bit of aesthetics can come in with the 'quality' question.)
The best part? YOU get to define "easy," "effort," and "enough" for whatever it is you are organizing. Take the time to find efficiency first, and, if you choose, follow up with neatness. Once things work more smoothly for you, the easier it will be to maintain and by extension, stay neat, if that’s your goal.
Hopefully, this concept gives you permission to be more organized without the pressure of being neat. In the future, I want to share with you how I used this approach in some disorganized areas of my home - so stay tuned!
Do you have any tips on how you found more efficiency in your life?