Title Card - Messy Means Disorganized?

Does “Messy” Really Mean “Disorganized”?

When you were growing up, you probably heard the same thing over and over from your parents:

“Clean up your room! How do you find anything in this place, it’s such a mess!”

You of course, being the confused kid that you are, probably looked around and didn’t see the problem. The lens cleaner for your glasses? You know you can find that tipped over under your bed missing the cap if you really wanted it. What about your favourite sweater? It’s about halfway down the third clothing pile on top of your beanbag chair. Could you probably find what you were looking for with minimal effort? Yes, for most things.

The fact of the matter is, what is really considered “messy” and “disorganized” is up to interpretation. A room with piles of clothes stacked neatly on a beanbag chair and books stacked in piles off the bookshelf on the floor might seem very neat and organized to someone who leaves clothes unfolded and thrown everywhere and nothing in coherent piles. The same room might also look completely disorganized to someone who puts all their clothes in the dresser, every book lined up neatly on the bookshelves by author and title. The thing that people seem to not understand is that everyone has a level of comfort with how organized or disorganized they want their space to be and will have a different point of comfort on a sliding scale compared to everyone else. As such, there is no right or wrong way to organize, there are just different ways of handling it.

This doesn’t stop at the home or bedroom. Think about when you were in school and you would look around at your classmates’ notebooks. One of your classmates came prepared with different coloured pens and highlighters, keeping their notes in neat rows on the lined paper with one section per subject, one or two pages per lesson. You might look at another classmate whose notes are intermixed with doodles, the start of an attempt at the first classmate’s organization style that slowly transforms into what appears to you like a disorganized mess on the page. Handouts from the class are stuffed haphazardly between the pages, getting wrinkled and torn at the edges where they stick out beyond the boundaries of the notebook, stuffed into backpacks bare and unprotected. Yet, both of these students are getting 90s in the class, despite their different organizational methods. Does this mean that the student with the “messy” binders and notebooks would do better if they organized their work in a fashion more closely resembling the other student? Likely, no. In fact, if they tried to spend their time organizing in a way that they are not comfortable with, it’s quite likely that they would find themselves spending too much time trying to organize in a way that takes too much mental effort for them and might actually do worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should be throwing everything around and let things go astray just because I said it works for some people. There are plenty of people who are not organized and need better systems for themselves. What I am telling you is that when you do find something that works for you, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t look like what society tells us is considered “organized”.

So why all this pressure to organize in a way that isn’t the way you operate? Well, returning to the bedroom example, one of the biggest factors is cleanliness. If you are leaving things on the floors or in corners collecting dust, or have clothes lying around that get trampled and dirty just from sitting there, you may be organized, but you’re probably not very clean. The issue here isn’t with your organizational methods rather than how easy it is to ensure your space is clean and healthy. If you are finding that you can’t keep up with your cleaning, it’s probably time to find a slightly different organizational method that allows you to clean better. And a reminder that leaving trash around is probably not considered organized in ANY system!

Life is a balance. Finding the right balance that works for you is the key to ensuring you are living a healthy and productive life. Explore your spaces and your mind to discover your best and most efficient organizational system, and live YOUR best life, for you!