just some thoughts…

shower conceived these too!

Being “organised” hasn’t been my strongest point. “Organised” in quotes because, it just dawned on me that this act could actually be very personal, and relative. “Organised” in one’s view could be completely disorganised in someone else’s. Seeing one of my profs’ office in “complete mess” all the time, I used to think at least someone is worse than myself when it came to being “organised”. I would have to push things around (on the floor and on the chairs and desks) to create a space for myself whenever I had meeting. But, it always startled me when my prof found everything he wanted to quicker than one would from a perfectly labelled (organised) filing system, or say a library. I would just sit there in awe of his memory. Remember playing a card game, where you have to flip two similar cards based on your memory of seeing them just once? Its like that. Everything in that chaos were in their “space” and in my profs’ memory of that space. Now, once a year my prof does “organise” his office (its a ritual that it seems has to be performed!), and after this “organisation” I find him lost in his own office for a few days (not being able to find the right document, and having to spend more time on everything because of that!) until his office came back to it normal chaotic self. I think his office is an “organised” chaos, just like morning rush hours in any of the metros in big cities. Its a chaos but things still move quite smoothly (because everybody know their “spaces”).

home-office
My “office at home”

Now lets talk about my own organised chaos. As I said being organised hasn’t been my strongest point. But then every few days, I find myself “organising” things in my office and my home-office (a little corner of the bedroom that has been turned into a working space), and even in my life. Shelving the books, filing the documents, arranging plethora of cables connecting all sorts of gadgets (wifi is a great boon, but I can’t wait to have wireless power supply), sorting through electronic documents and organising them into neatly labelled folders, replying/writing email to friends long forgotten and relatives long ignored, and so on and so forth. Reason for doing all this? Well, the hope of being more productive once the chaos has been organised. Does it work? NO. Absolutely not!

So why do it?

Well, a number of reasons really. The first and foremost, I think its rather my need to procrastinate and NOT be organised that drives me to the act of organising things. For I do not think I have ever been more productive once the “chaos” has been “organised”. Quite the contrary, like my prof, I find myself going through the “organised” documents, to find what I am looking for, and it always takes longer to go through and find documents from the seemingly organised system than I would have done from the “chaos”. When it comes to electronic documents, organising them in neat folders, I have come to think now, is a complete waste of time. I would just dump them in one or two folders (not the Desktop mind you – I like my Desktop spotless), and use either the Spotlight (Macs’ built-in index and search) or Google Desktop (whose Mac version has improved a lot lately and now my first choice) to find them. In fact with one or two tweaks in keystrokes, I can find documents I am looking for in my computer 10 times (or even more) faster than I would if I had organised them in neat and well labelled folders and started clicking through them! So why bother cleaning the “mess” if it doesn’t stick to you!?!

fuller view of my home-office
A fuller view of my “office at home”, an organised chaos. Well, to be honest, I did arrange the stuffs on my bed a bit, at least in neat piles if nothing else!

Secondly, this need to clear things up every time somebody is coming over to my room. I think its a pressure (social pressure) that we all face. Having to do things for others (to make them feel comfortable). And I’m not complaining for having to do that too. In fact that just gives me something to do when I would have found something else to procrastinate upon anyway! And strangely, it does feel good to be in an “organised” space once in a while, even though it doesn’t really help you in anything (when it comes to getting things done and being productive). No wonder I just ordered David Allen’s GTD book. Lets see if that helps ! 🙂

home-office corridor
My “office at home” corridor!

Finally, there is the compulsion of “organising” or at least piling up things, due to practical reasons. Once every few days, my extended desk space (which is the bed) gets covered with papers, books and what not without even leaving room to sleep. When you are tired and just want to sleep at 2am and don’t find space in your own bed, it could be a bit frustrating. If it was your other half taking too much space, you could at least vent your anger/frustrations, but when its just the papers, what could you do? other than to just push them aside and make space for yourself, and in process disorganise the organised chaos that had existed before. Next day you start work and don’t find the papers that you were looking for and knew where it was just last night! Of course you pushed it away from its “space” and now can’t find it using your old memory. To avoid these frustrations, and disorganising the chaos, I try my best to leave at least enough space for me to sleep. And making use of the corridor between the bed and my main work desk is always helpful!

I now wonder if being productive amongst this organised chaos is in fact a personal trait that you can’t change. At least I don’t see myself changing that easily, nor do I see my prof out of his organised chaos anytime soon!