Disorganized and Organized

The first time my wife (then-girlfriend) walked into my room in university, there wasn’t place for her to sit. I had a huge pile of laundered and unfolded clothes on the bed. When it was time to go to bed, I would move the pile onto my desk and go to sleep. I don’t really remember if she said much but the look on her face said it all.

A lot has changed since then. My rooms have become much neater (not neat enough is what she would say though :-)). But, the biggest change has been in the way I manage my work. I have become close to brutally organized over time and I believe that has greatly helped me get more done in a day. Choosing organization over disorganization has been a deliberate, learned, and logical choice.

Here’s why – day-to-day living is tough. It will take every ounce of energy and stamina you give it and still ask for more. And, if you make it a habit to constantly associate yourself with circles where people are better than you, you will soon notice that intelligence or aptitude are hardly ever going to make a difference. There are some folks who can get away based on pure smarts. But, they are few and far between. A larger percentage thinks they can but find it hard to pull it off. No, the successful folk I’ve met are those who marry smarts and aptitude for what they do with thoughtful strategy and tactics to approach life, relentless focus, high self-discipline and a seemingly never-ending reservoir of grit and persistence for things that matter.

And, all of this would be null and void if you didn’t have your proverbial “sh*t” together.

Someday, I hope I’ll be as organized in my personal life as I am in my professional life. I keep misplacing things all the time because I don’t keep things in their designated places – that results in much more wasted time and unnecessary stress than I’d like. But, I’m beginning to get the idea and I’m beginning to understand the sort of systems that will help. It’s a start. Being organized is a way of life, a way of living well.

And, if something is worth doing, I guess it is worth doing well…

A bit of organization.. (featuring a clothes storage hack)

can go a long way. I’ve experienced this twice over the past two weeks.

My secondary school was attempting to reach out to all its alumni for a silver jubilee presentation. Their efforts were not going anywhere and they had an email out to a few of the alumni whose email addresses were on their books. When I met with the Principal, my first thought was to create a Google Form for alumni to enter their data. This way, the school would find all the information it needed in one place. The next problem was to reach out to as many alumni as possible. My thought was to email a whole bunch of them and have these emails forwarded. But, a friend had a smarter idea – start a Facebook group. Within 3 weeks, the Facebook group has gathered 761 alumni – that’s about 70 per cent of the total number – and alumni sign ups on the Google form. The next problem was picture upload and that was solved by sharing a public Google Drive link.

All of a sudden, the fuzzy task of reaching out to as many alumni as possible and gathering alumni information was changed to 3 concrete steps –
1. Get alumni on the Facebook group
2. Ensure alumni of Facebook group fill up the form and upload their photo
3. Stay in touch with the alumni and ensure future participation for various programs (hey, that’s a bonus!)

In the second case, we’ve just moved continents and are in the process of getting settled. I had to stack clothes within a bunch of drawers. I began doing the conventional fold + stack when my wife suggested I do it differently. Her method involved folding them as usual, rolling them (this helps avoid creases as well), and then placing them one after another. This looks like this –

photo 1 photo 2 This has so many advantages – you know exactly what you have available and you can even create a system which ensures you wear all the options before repeating one (of course, Steve Jobs wouldn’t appreciate that as much). In both cases, all it took was a bit of thinking and organization. And, in both cases, it went a long way..