Friday, May 09, 2008

What does it mean to be organised?

It's probably easier to explain what organised is not!
Neat is not necessarily organised.

I have seen some very neat but disorganised workspaces. Everything looks good on the surface, but watch the scrambling when you ask for a specific file!

Lining up all your pencils just so means that you like your pencils all in a row, not necessarily that you're organised.
I think people confuse the looking good factor with being organised because when things look good, it's gives the same feeling that being organised gives you.

I've also seen people who work with piles but they can locate whatever they want very quickly. However, when these people get overwhelmed by the piles of paper, then it's time to go through them and reorganize.

Personally, when I'm working, I spread out a lot so I don't work in a very neat fashion. But I'm organised because all that spread-out paper relates to only my current project.

My definition of organised is being able to find something in a minute or less.

This is always my aim both personally, and when I work with clients. I want to create a system, working with their personalities, where they can find something within a minute or less.

So my question to you is this - can you find what you're looking for quickly? Are you neat, organised or both?


Kin said...

Hmm, based on your definitions, I'd be organised, but definitely NOT neat. My boss always used to shake his head at my desk, but I could find him anything he wanted in 30 seconds or less. My workmate on the other hand, always had an immaculate desk, but couldn't find anything.

It's really about finding something that clicks in your brain I think.

Robert in SF said...

Thank you for bringing up this topic! I think so many people confuse neat/tidy/sparse with organized that they of course think it's impossible to get organized without one of those "clean sweep" days spent in gutting a space and totally redoing it all!

To me, organized is more than just, can I find something in a certain amount of time. That's necessary but not sufficient. To me, it's also: can someone else find something in a reasonable amount of time or with a moderate amount of thought into where it might be? In an emergency or in a situation where you are away and someone needs to find something, could they do it with reason or with luck? :)

I have had to replace 3 people so far in my career, and found they had very little method to their madness when it came to organizing paperwork. I had to pile and then file, just to get the big picture view of what they had and then re-organize it so someone could understand it when I wasn't there to explain it. Because I will not always be there to explain it.

Anyway, neat is nice, organized is nice, but neat *and* organized is best.

I guess what you need is a system that says everything has a place, things are in their place and the decision of where to put new stuff (or create new places) is easy to figure out.