An alternate title for this piece might be “Getting minimally organized to avoid total chaos”.
I am disorganized. I am disorganized in two ways: I am disorganized in space, and I am disorganized in time.
I am disorganized in space
Everything in its place? HAH. I’d never remember where everything goes! I’ve got thousands of items in my home. Heck, I’ve got thousands of BOOKS. Then there’s all that stuff in my kitchen! Plates! Pots! Pans! Knives! Oy vey!
That’s organizing in space. It’s hard.
My space is just not organized. I don’t remember where things are. I don’t remember how things look. I don’t remember where I put things. We had our apartment painted. After a week, I wondered: What color did the walls used to be? I don’t know. What color are they now? I’m not sure. When I was a teenager, living in a room I had lived in for 10 years or so, there was a blackout. My parents found me, 30 minutes later, crawling around on the floor, trying to find my way out.
The other day I came into the kitchen (where our washer-dryer is) to get pajamas for my son. I put them down to do something else. Then I forgot where they were and spent 5 minutes looking. Yesterday, my wife was out, and called me to ask if her glasses were on the bookcase. I went and looked and came back to tell her there was a pair of glasses there, but I didn’t know if they were hers or our son’s. “Well” she asked, “what color are they? I have a green pair and a purple pair”. “I don’t know, I’ll go look”….. “I can’t really tell”. “Well, are they half frames or full frames?” “Huh?” Half frames? Full frames? They’re glasses! She explained and I went back to look again.
I am disorganized in time
Then there is organizing in time. When to do what. How long do things take? When did things happen? During my adolescence, I got hit by a car and had surgery on my eyes. Which happened first? I have no idea. People ask me if my son was born before or after I got my PhD, and I have to think “Let’s see, he was born in 1996, I got my degree in 1999″.
Some solutions for getting organized in space
Every thing in its place” is a joke. But there are a certain few things that I have to know how to find. Each of those things has one of a few places to be. For example, my glasses are either a) On my face b) On my
nightstand or c) On the sink. NO WHERE ELSE. EVER. My keys are in my pants pocket or on my dresser. My PDA is either on my belt or on my nightstand. That’s about all. I don’t try to overload myself.
In the morning, when I do my morning routine, I work top down. Hair, face, underarms. So I can remember what I’ve done.
My books are organized by category. I’m never quite sure which category is where, but I can at least search for the right category, and then find the right book. And I’ve got them sorted by author within category. The reason that works is I only had to do it once.
Some solutions for getting organized in time
I always allow too long to do things. I’ve recognized now that that won’t change. So, I always carry a book (or two). And I resign myself to waiting.
I also try to calculate how long things will take – I’m not usually right, but at least it shrinks the error.
Peter Flom is a learning disabled adult. In 1965, his mother started the Gateway School, and he was the first student. He is very involved with learning disabilities, is working on a book on the subject, and has spoken about LD to several groups. He also has a PhD in psychometrics, works as a statistician, and is a husband and a father. His website is www.IAmLearningDisabled.com