Tell an attorney their house has burned down or they’ve lost their job and most likely they will quickly grow philosophical about it: “Oh well, these things happen . . .”
But tell a lawyer he or she is disorganized, and they’ll writhe in agony while screaming like a steam whistle. Then they may try to murder you.
The Great American Myth has always been “BEING ORGANIZED IS BEING VIRTUOUS”.
But nobody ever asks: “Is being virtuous being organized?”
This is not an article extolling the pleasures of chaos. But there are clearly five good reasons for not worrying about being disorganized and what to do about it:
There’s organization, and then there’s organization.
The composer Ludwig von Beethoven was able to organize musical notes into melodies and themes that thrill the entire world. Yet many contemporary accounts describe his surroundings, where he composed his greatest symphonies, as almost a pigpen. Unwashed dishes and unfinished meals were everywhere; his clothes lay scattered on the floor; and it took a massive effort by friends to get him cleaned up, combed, shaved, and dressed before he could go out to conduct one of his own musical miracles.
But where would the world be if Beethoven had been a neat freak who never had time to write a note of music?
Break down your life to what is truly important to you and what is not; then work hard at organizing what’s important, and let the rest of it remain unorganized. You’ll be happy, and in a hundred years no one will remember that you never folded your clean laundry.
Have a gimmick.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander during World War Two, and also President of the United States. A guy like that had to be super-organized, right?
Well, here’s what his aides remembered about his ‘organized’ ways:
During the long hours of work, Eisenhower’s desk would become buried under paperwork and other paraphernalia of authority. At the end of the day, usually around midnight, he’d open the capacious middle draw of his desk and calmly sweep everything into it. Then leave. When he came in in the morning, his desk was completely clean and he was ready to start over again. If something were needed from a previous day, he’d have one of his clerks rummage through the drawer until it was found.
So use a gimmick to keep organized, or if appearances are really important to you, to look organized like Eisenhower. Put all your shoes in a canvas bag; keep your checkbook in the freezer — there’s always a gimmick.
The only thing fifteen-year olds are good for.
You can program your mobile device(s) to keep your life completely organized right down to the nano-second. The only trouble is that it would take you half a lifetime to locate and figure out how to set and maintain all the apps to do this. So find a fifteen-year old kid and pay them to do it — they’re the only ones in the world who know how to do all that stuff, and it will keep them off the streets and out of mischief.
The Tom Sawyer Approach.
In Mark Twain’s book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, he describes how Tom persuades his friends into whitewashing his Aunt Polly’s picket fence by pretending he doesn’t believe they know how to do such a thing — which provokes them into doing the entire job for him.
So the next time you are faced with a garage that looks like a landmine went off in it or an attic that appears to have been turned upside down by ghosts, invite your most fastidious (but not your smartest) friends over for brunch and present the unorganized disaster as the result of your feverish work for the past six hours. Once they start to scoff, innocently ask if they could do it any better; then sit back with a refreshing drink and a paperback novel while your friends do all the heavy lifting. If you’ve got enough friends, you can get away with this for years. Some successful bloggers have used this trick to run some of the web’s most successful blogs as well.
Call your disorganized mess a ‘system’.
So your closets are choked with debris, making it impossible to find your winter coat or tennis racket. Just go out and buy a new coat or racket. When friends and family tease you about this, blithely tell them you are not disorganized — you are using the “Felbish Method of Organization”, as first formulated at Harvard in 2014. This will impress the heck out of them, and make you look like a MBA genius.
Then when you’ve finally found your coat and/or racket, quietly donate them to a local thrift store.