How to be messy and organized

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How to be messy and organized. At the same time. A contrarian view, perhaps. Organizers get sick of having to inform people that being organized and being tidy do not necessarily co-exist. The organized part refers to an underlying system that helps you function. It can be more or less detailed, depending on how much effort you’re willing to put in and what kind of results you need. The tidy part is about looks.

It’s also about how an environment feels to you.

People who are messy on purpose revel in being immersed in their possessions. They are inspired by seeing all the possibilities around them. People who are tidy get distracted when there’s too much visible at once. They need to shut off all those possibilities when they want to focus on getting a particular task done. This is an important distinction.

A common misconception about tidy people is that they are dry, dull and boring.

My view is that they can get overloaded with ideas and plans provoked by what they see around them because they find it hard to ignore. Messy types seem to be able to tune into the inspiration of stuff and then tune out their environments entirely, so they can happily work at a cluttered desk and not even notice what’s next to them.

So the question is: what kind of environment do you prefer to work in? If it’s a messy one you can still have a system, it just may not be apparent to anyone else. How do you keep everything out but still have access to all of it, not endanger self and others by its placement?

  • Plenty of open shelving, with shelves placed as close together as needed
  • Literature holders with lots of cubbies for paper and other things
  • Apothecary cabinets have many small drawers that can be turned into cubbies by removing the drawers
  • Rolling carts with wire drawers that pull out are handy
  • A big table instead of a desk to give you more horizontal space
  • A laptop computer to save desk real estate. Or a flat screen monitor with the CPU on the floor
  • A big bulletin board