Monday, March 10, 2014

Organized does not equal Neat

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.

How often do we use neat and organized interchangeably, without realizing that those words are not synonymous?  Related, maybe, but not the same. Think about it, if you have some guests coming over and you haven't had time to prepare, you might stuff things in places that they do not belong - in random drawers, under the bed, in a closet. Sure, your place looks NEAT, but it is FAR from organized. Later on, you might find it difficult to find the mate to a shoe or that book you want to read. Even worse, that mess stays hidden and one day rears its ugly head, especially when it comes time to move.  On the other hand, as some artists and left-brain creative folks may claim, you can have organized chaos - an efficient system for someone that may not appear to be organized and is definitely not neat, but works well for that specific person.  Think of the piles of papers on a scientist’s desk or maybe a spread of paint in an artist’s studio.

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?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I am so grateful you took the time to read my thoughts! I would love to get the chance to read yours, so go ahead and leave a comment!