By Susan Gardner, CPO-CD
Behind the world of minimalism, organization, Ikeas, and Container Stores, lurks the world of messies. Messies can be out by the nature of their public desk and challenged time management while others remain hidden behind façades of orderliness or behind closed doors, known only to themselves. It is okay for the messies to enjoy their place with others who do not keep on top of their stuff in conventionally expected order.
What makes a “messie”?
Messies are often creative and intelligent. They consist of thinkers, artists, and collectors. They are our co-workers, and much-loved family and friends. Some keep track of what they have by keeping things in their field of vision while others keep their mess behind a closed cabinet or in a separate room.
Order within a piled-up desk often surprises people who are not messy. Do you have an organized mess?
- Are piles fluid and changing? Organized piles remain current and things at every level are touched regularly. Unproductive mess includes things easily ignored or intentionally avoided.
- Do you know what is in your piles or boxes? When organized, you can look for and find things, usually through spatial memory.
- Does your space enhance motivation and energy? Spaces that inspire forward movement in relationships and accomplishments are organized in some fashion.
How to find a happy balance
Messiness becomes a challenge when it interferes with deadlines, work flow or relationships. At this point, talk about organizing is beneficial. First, identify the order that is present in your mess. Perhaps you know that a needed piece of paper (a report, tax document, school vaccination form, etc.) is on the right side of the desk, in the stack under the candy bar, about 3 inches down. Artists can have a reasonable idea of their supplies and where to find tools. Additional order can be built on to increase productivity or energy.
Second, name the challenges that matter. Sometimes it is necessary for another person to find something in your office or home, and it is reasonable that in shared spaces there is give and take. Draw boundaries around certain rooms or spaces to allow two or more people to live together comfortably. Respect the difference in organizing personalities and style. Accentuating the differences through contrast can be fun, or creative blending of furnishings and function can make messiness aesthetically pleasing.
Finally, partner with people, electronics, or paper to stay on top of things when life and space is a mess. Find an organizer or coach who appreciates your connection with your stuff or time challenges and, thus, will help ground you toward completion of tasks and an increased ability to find and use things effectively. Put reminders in your phone or use a timer to keep focus. (Check out TimeTimer or Pomodora techniques for examples.) Many people still love paper planners or sticky notes on their bathroom mirror.
Messy people usually won’t find effective organizing hacks in Real Simple magazine. So what? Since there are plenty of hacks out there, this doesn’t phase us. We’re often the creatives, remember?