When I was in high school, I had a “college binder.”
It contained all sorts of information on colleges I thought I might want to attend, majors to consider, school clubs I might want to join.
It had tips on taking the SAT and ACT, when to submit the FAFSA, and some of those laminated cheat sheets to help with biology and chemistry.
My sister called it my 10-year binder, but really it only could have covered 5 years at most.
And it was only about college – nothing else.
I participated in a program called Running Start, which allows high school students to take college classes for college credit starting in eleventh grade. I actually got my high school diploma and my Associates Degree from the same community college on the same day. After I finished tenth grade at my private high school, I was “officially” a college student.
One of my skills is that I’m extremely organized. Like that 5-year binder, I had classes figured out down to the quarter in which I was to take them.
This persisted into university.
But back to Running Start.
The RS office at my community college called me their poster child for organization.
Every quarter when students were required to come in for an advising appointment to choose the next quarter’s classes, I arrived with my class list already approved by the local high school’s counselor (the only interaction I had with a high school, to be honest), and all they had to do was sign it so I could get into my classes.
Staying this organized, to some, seemed like overkill.
But for me, it meant that I didn’t have to sit through thirty minutes or an hour of a guidance counselor or adviser trying to figure out what classes I should take when they barely knew me.
I knew what I wanted to take, what I wanted to do. Why should I sit through a pointless hour debating which classes to take when I already knew which ones I needed?
The advisers, I found, appreciated this forward thinking a lot more than I expected.
When I made it to university, the advising system there was broken enough that at one point one woman handled the advising appointments for over a thousand engineering students.
She nearly cried with relief when all I needed her to do was sign the slip of paper.
Being this organized and maintaining this level of organization isn’t hard.
At least – it’s not hard for me.
I know that many people are, by nature, disorganized and that my system and view of organization would make their heads hurt.
But I also believe that anyone can build a little more organization into their lives.
Being organized makes life easier.
It’s that simple.
And all it takes is a little time spent planning and anticipating.
There is such thing as overkill, though, and I freely admit to some of my plans being overkill.
The very least you can do is take a pad of paper, a pen, and write down a few notes before you go into that meeting with your boss.
At the minimum, you can flip through the school course catalog to find classes you might be interested in taking.
You could download the course curriculum guide from your department’s website to see the terms during which all the classes you need to graduate will be offered.
All it takes is walking in with an idea already there.
The worst thing you can do is go in blind.
Disorganization is a big contributor to living in chaos.
Are you really that comfortable living in a room that looks like a clothing explosion? Doesn’t it bother you that you can never find anything on your desk, especially when you need it?
Granted, there are people who can set something down in a pile and know exactly where it is when they need it later. But I’d wager most people aren’t like that.
For me, I feel distressed and anxious whenever I find myself looking at a messy room or desk explosion.
When I was packing for a recent trip, I paused in the middle to quickly organize a closet. Stuff had piled up on the floor and I just knew that if I didn’t do something about it right then – I’d spend my trip disgruntled with the state of the closet a thousand miles away.
Even now, I’m still the poster child for being organized in my family.
What About You?
Do you thrive with minimalism and no clutter or with what some people call “organized chaos”?
Or maybe you’re somewhere in between?
Let me know in the comments how being organized (or disorganized) has affected your life.