I had a number of things that I needed to get done today. I had 2-3 podcasts to produce and a few blog posts I wanted to write. It was not my intention that this be a lazy Saturday. But while I still lay in bed I had the overwhelming desire to re-organize the apps on my iPhone. They have become disorganized over time and I had an idea for how to better organize them.
I like being organized, but sometimes the act of organization becomes a nice distraction from actually getting things done.
A Sloppy Desk
The Engineering VP at my first startup was a gentleman by the name of Shiraz Shivji. Shiraz had already had some great success in computers before I worked for him having already worked on early computers like the Atari ST and the Commodore 64. Shiraz had an interesting filing system that I have been known to mock. He threw things on his desk. When the piles got large enough that things fell on the floor he threw them away. How could someone be so productive and yet so disorganized I wondered. What I learned is that if he had something he really wanted to save he gave it to someone else to keep.
I started to understand the value of his filing system as things got very very busy at that company. It got to the point that I went from my organized filing system to opening up the bottom drawer in my filing cabinet and just throwing things in. The surprising thing to me is that I seldom opened the drawer back up to try and find a specific document and when I did it was often one of the last 3-4 I had chucked in there. My last in first out filing system was sufficient for the task.
Over time my email filing system and electronic document systems have also simplified some. With the advent of better search on my computer it is often more convenient to search for information than filing it in some elaborate system. Similarly sometimes it is easier to search for specific information on the web rather than having a complicated bookmark system. I find with email that I can delete many emails that I receive immediately and trust that my trash on my email system does not get emptied for a month.
What is the minimum amount of organization that you and I need?
I find that I do need to have a calendar with appointments and reminders because I get to easily involved in my current task to remember when a meeting will start. I find it useful to have a to do list if for no other reason than crossing off things feels good. I find I need to put my car keys in one spot. I do not find that having my apps well organized is as life changing as I might have thought.