I am beginning a project–a potentially long, difficult, and foolhardy project–and I want to bring you along for the ride. My goal? Organization. (I know, how very January of me.) Organization of home, organization of money, organization of priorities and tasks.
I plan to bite this project off in bits and pieces, and to share with you the particularly difficult or particularly helpful bits. I’ll talk more later about my method and specific goals. But first, I’d like to take one post to talk about why I am taking this project on at all.
It’s very simple, really:
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
- Professor Albus Dumbledore
We hear the word “organization” or the phrase “get organized” so many times (especially at this time of year) that we easily forget what they actually mean.
It’s all too easy to equate “organization” with “visual order,” like rows of labelled boxes or paperclips and rubber bands neatly in separate drawer dividers. This is not entirely wrong. Visual order can be a part of organization; an outward manifestation of the fact that organization exists, but it is not one and the same thing.
True organization is a deeper, more basic state of being, and it need not necessarily be accompanied by fancy organizing “tools.” It is, essentially (to borrow from Radiohead), everything in its right place.
You’re cooking and you need that one frying pan. Do you know where it is? Can you reach right for the cumin, or do you have to search for it? You’re getting ready for work, can you remember where you left your glasses or your keys?
This is most easily understood by examples like this, on the level of “stuff,” but it is just as true for the organization of priorities, tasks, even one’s mind (thank you, Dumbledore).
Order of space is knowing what tools you have at your disposal and easily being able to use them, order of mind is knowing what things are most important to you (and where your security comes from).
All of that should give you a good idea of why anyone would want to be organized, but let me give you a glimpse into my personal reasons.
Ever since I was a child, I have had two deeply ingrained tendencies that, together, have made life quite interesting. On the one hand, I have always been a lover of order. On the other hand, I have also always been an insufferable procrastinator and clutterer. Why did God put these two traits into the same person? Don’t ask me—maybe He has a sense of humor?
In any case, you could say that this project, “Attempting Organization,” is one which I am not starting so much as continuing from the day I was born. Here are my personal reasons for continuing it:
1. The problem is so crippling. When I look at the things in my life that bring me stress, they inevitably lead back to lack of clarity. Lack of clarity on what I’m supposed to be doing–so I don’t do anything. Lack of clarity on where something is, because there’s too much clutter around to find it. Lack of clarity on where to put something, so I just stack it any old place and can’t find it later. (Such a first-world problem, I know… but it is a real problem! All of us who have been blessed with so much stuff have also, in a way, been cursed.)
2. The payoff is so great. I have experienced another way of living, at various times in my life, and it is so much better I can hardly describe it. The latest time was last year, in our last house, when my mother came and helped me go through the same process I’m now attempting on my current house. I couldn’t believe it–now that I knew where everything went, I actually put things away! I knew where things were when I needed them… I experienced a kind of mental clarity I’m not sure I had ever had. Aaaand then we got a dog… and moved.
3. I believe that striving is important, and progress is possible. There is an important balance to be struck in this project in order not to fall off either on the side of perfectionism or the side of apathy. So although I know this world is not a perfect one, and never will be, I am still driven to strive toward a clearer state of mind. Because even if I fail, the effort is worthwhile, and even if I fall short, I know I will make progress toward my goal. Every time I’ve attempted it in the past I have gotten a little closer than the time before.
Plus, this time? I’m going to be bringing you along with me to keep me accountable. I hope you enjoy the ride.