Tuesday, 20 January 2009

How to be Organized(sic) in Spite of Yourself

I picked this book up because (I think) it appeared on 43folders.com. I've just started it, and, as per the subtitle - "Time and space management that fits your personal style" - it is suggesting that anyone can get organised; you just need to know how to adapt organisation to how you work, not the other way round.

So - the first step is trying to find out where you fit into the 'types of person' profiles. "There are ten operational styles", it says. And goes on to list them, broken into two categories: Time and Space.

Under "Time" it has:
They like to have lots of irons in the fire and work on several tasks simultaneously, but they constantly jump from task to task without ever completing any of them

Perfectionist Plus
They think they can do anything, but they get so involved in trying to do everything right that they often can't get projects done on time. Even when they finish a job, they're seldom really satisfied with the results.

Allergic to Detail
They'd much rather formulate plans than carry them out, so after they start a project they're weak on follow-through.

Fence Sitter
They leave everything to chance because they have trouble making decisions and worry whether or not they will make the right one.

Cliff Hanger
They thrive on excitement, delay everything to the last minute, and usually need outside time pressure to complete a task.

OK. I nodded my head at each of these...but that then made me wonder if I was just being pulled in by some well-contrived wording of the kind fortune-tellers use - something that could apply to anyone. And some of them sound mutually exclusive - 'Perfectionist Plus' and 'Allergic to Detail', for example.

How do I see myself fitting into each category?

Am I a 'Hopper'? Well, yes - I love having lots of little projects on the go at once, and yes, I often - usually in fact - never get round to completing any of them.

Am I a 'Perfectionist Plus'? I believe I can turn my hand to most things - within reason. And when I try to do something, I do often try to do it 'right'; usually with the effect that I never get it completed because I'm always trying to tidy it up. Or, as it says, I am very seldom happy with what I've completed because i think I could have done a better job of it.

Am I 'Allergic to Detail'? I once described myself (from having been provided with a list of 'types of people to have in a team') as a "starter" - someone who can get the ball rolling on things, but one they've got it going expects or needs someone else to complete it. I think that "weak on follow-through" fits that quite well.

Am I a 'Fence Sitter'? I wouldn't say I leave everything to chance, but I do often find it difficult to make a decision. I guess this is the one where I feel the weakest match to the description.

Am I a 'Cliff Hanger'? 'Thrive on excitement' certainly doesn't quite fit (not that I don't like a little excitement, of course). I do generally delay until the last minute. And, yes, being told I have a deadline does give me a boost - especially when it's close.

The other thing I notice is that out of these five 'operational types' not a single one of them actually appears to be organised. Well, OK...I guess maybe they're aiming at the target market - those that are habitually disorganised and want to get better. But surely there should be some positives along with the negatives!

Carrying on, the five types listed under 'Space' are:

Everything Out
They work best when everything they need is out in front of them and feel it's a waste of time to put things away in drawers and closets when they're going to use them again.

Nothing Out
They hate to see clutter, so having a clear desk and hiding things from sight makes them feel as though they're in control.

Right Angler
They confuse neatness with organisation and believe they're getting organised when they straighten things up and arrange piles with perfectly straight edges

Pack Rat
They have a compulsion to save because something might come in handy someday, someone else might have a use for it, or they don't know what else to do with it.

Total Slob
They are totally disorganised and believe that they have more important and creative things to do with their lives than stay neat.

Well, I feel less inclined to categorise myself quite so readily in any of these. I do sometimes work "Everything Out" (oo-er), but can also work "Nothing Out" - although it's not for disliking seeing clutter, but that it's easier to find things if there is only what I'm working on out. I have in the past done some "Right Angling". I am most certainly a "Pack Rat" - I keep things that I invariably never want again. And as for "Total Slob" - it's more a feeling of lack of desire or time to do the tidying than that I "have more creative or important" things to do. I just procrastinate!

So where does that leave me? I guess I'll find out when I keep reading. It has also reminded me that I never finished The Now Habit; some of the ideas are reminiscent...

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