Is being organised really all it's cracked up to be?


I recently saw something somewhere on the t’interweb that really made me stop and think. I can’t remember where I saw it, or exactly what it said (great story, Louise), but basically someone was questioning the merits of being organised.

Everyone talks about being organised as though it’s some great virtue. But is that really the case?

As someone who’s naturally organised, I’ve never really given it much thought. But since seeing that slightly confronting comment online I’ve been mulling over the benefits of being organised and whether it is, in fact, something we should all be striving for.

Here’s what I think.

Being organised can reduce your stress levels. For instance, if you have a designated spot next to the front door for your keys (we have a lovely ceramic pot for ours), you’ll never find yourself running around the house screaming ‘have you seen my keys?’, making yourself late for that Very Important Meeting. If your calendar (note the singular ‘calendar’ – having multiple calendars is just asking for trouble!) is kept up-to-date, you won’t double-book yourself. If the files on your computer are organised logically, you’ll always be able to find what you’re looking for. If you have a single to-do list rather than lots of post-its and scraps of paper dotted around the place, you’ll find it easier to see what needs doing. If your inbox is under control you won’t be uneasy about what important emails you haven’t replied to.

I could go on. But hopefully you can see from those examples how being more organised could reduce your stress levels.

If that’s the case, is it too much of a stretch to say that it’s good for your health? I have no science at my fingertips to back this up, but to me that feels reasonable. When we’re stressed we’re vulnerable to other health issues, our sleep is affected and our relationships can suffer. Does this all sound a little over-dramatic? Perhaps. But I do know that when I was suffering from stress and anxiety, getting organised and tightening up on all the things I’d let slip made the world of difference to both my mental and physical wellbeing.

Being organised also gives you the gift of time. No more time wasted looking for stuff or trying to remember what on earth you’re meant to be doing. You can use that time for something a little more worthwhile than desperately hunting for a bill that needs paying, scouring your computer for the report you wrote last week or procrastinating over confused priorities.

And being organised also means we’re better able to deal with the unexpected. It creates the white space we need to keep us afloat when life throws something at us. If we have clarity around everything we’re juggling we’ll be able to reprioritise and recalibrate more easily when things don’t go according to plan.

So, what about those who don’t see the point in being organised?

People who prefer to be flexible, who hate routine and enjoy spontaneity? I’d argue that there’s still scope for being organised whilst enjoying a less structured and more laissez-faire way of life! Being organised doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you’re doing with every minute of your day. But if you can see clearly what needs to be done, you have the freedom to make conscious choices in the moment. No more firefighting and being reactive when things start screaming for your attention.

But of course, we’re all different.

You need to find a level of organisation that works for you. You could plan each day to the hour if that calms and reassures you. (Be sure to leave some white space so that you have a bit of wiggle room, and remember that you can’t control everything.) Or you could simply have an idea of what you need to get done over the course of a week and then allow things to unfold naturally, depending on your natural energy levels and mood. (Be sure to keep an eye on how you’re doing, so you don’t get to the end of the week having forgotten to do the most important thing!)

Whatever your preference, though, can I suggest having a dedicated place to put your keys? Surely no one could object to the value of that!


Over to you

So, what do you think? Are you naturally organised or is it a constant battle for you? I’d especially love to hear from you if you’re in the ‘being organised isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’ camp. Leave a comment below and help me understand!


I'd love to see you over in The Getting Stuff Done Collective over on Facebook, where I share tips for productivity and gently chivvy people along in our weekly accountability thread! 

Louise Miller2 Comments