from experts in the field:
David H. Freedman is an author and journalist (WWW FREEDMAN COM).
He and Eric Abrahamson wrote the bestselling book 0ERFECT -ESS
4HE (IDDEN "ENEFITS OF $ISORDER (available on costco.com).
MAY DEBATE UPDATE:
Should restaurants have to
disclose nutrition information?
IN 1928, A YOUNG, hardworking scientist named Alexander Fleming left
his messy, disorganized lab in London to take a few days off. When he came
back, he noticed a strange mold had appeared on one of the many sample
dishes he had left scattered under an open window. Instead of cleaning the
dish, straightening up the lab and continuing on with his planned work, he
studied the odd mold on a whim and discovered penicillin, saving tens of millions of lives. It’s a
good illustration of why neatness and organization are overrated.
Constant neatness and organization can take time away from doing important work, not to
mention family, hobbies and relaxation. It can exact a huge cost in money and time, producing
needless guilt and anxiety. (And please don’t buy into the myth that it’s easy to stay neat and
organized once you get neat and organized—it’s constant work.)
Creativity is deeply entwined with messiness. It’s hard to be creative or lucky when you
become obsessed with planning, routines and systems.
Being organized is about predictability, routine and control. Being at least a little messy and
disorganized can lead to all sorts of happy and useful inspiration and improvisation.
You might not be in a position to discover a new medicine on your messy lab bench, but you
could discover a new recipe on your messy kitchen counter, or stumble on your old guitar in that
pile in your closet, or find an idea for a new product among the memos, magazine articles and
books scattered around your desk. And if you stick rigidly to an appointment book, I guarantee
that there won’t be many great surprises in store for you today.
I have to laugh when I hear organizing experts giving people “permission” to be messy,
as long as it’s done in an organized way.
Living up to the standards set by an increasingly loud get-organized industry is, for most
people, frustrating and largely pointless. Constantly fighting to keep everything in its place, and
to have everything planned and systemized and turned into a routine, can waste time and energy
and keep you from taking advantage of much of the spontaneity, personality and surprise that
make life interesting and rewarding. A willingness to embrace mess can be a celebration of life. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by May 7, 2008.
APRIL DEBATE RESULTS:
Are we doing enough to protect
our national wilderness?
YES: 67% NO: 33%
Percentage reflects votes received
by April 30, 2008.
from experts in the field:
AS OUR DAYS BECOME increasingly busy, living an organized life is not
only desirable, but essential. Being organized helps individuals succeed at
home and in their careers, avoid stress and save money. However, being
organized is not necessarily the same as being “neat,” because organization
is about function, not appearance.
At work, being organized is not about having a paper-free desk, but about being able to
find what you need, when you need it. Organized people have systems in place so that they do
not waste time constantly looking for lost items. As a result, they are more likely to be on time
and are less likely to forget things. Also, as you age it is even more important to have systems in
place to organize your life. What worked when you were younger may not serve you as you
become less mobile and your memory declines.
Being organized also reduces the frustration and stress that are often caused by having to
purchase lost items or redo misplaced tasks or jobs. In addition, organized people save money
by keeping up with home and car maintenance, remembering to use coupons, utilizing early-bird registration and paying bills on time. They also cut spending on food because they don’t
have to throw away spoiled groceries or frequently resort to takeout because there is nothing
in the refrigerator.
Any way you add it up, being organized can improve your life in multiple ways. When
people are organized, they can spend their free time with family and friends, as well as for
activities such as vacations, hobbies, exercise and work. This allows them to establish a better
balance between work and life and be happy and healthy.
If getting organized is something you are serious about, don’t make the mistake of doing
too much at once. Take small steps so that you do not become overwhelmed. Think of the
function of each room before you start organizing. Start with one room at a time and create
spaces that will serve you well. C
Standolyn Robertson is a certified professional organizer and
president of the National Association of Professional Organizers
(WWW NAPO NET).
Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented
and are presented to foster discussion.
Costco and 4HE #OSTCO #ONNECTION take
no position on any Debate topic.