A while back I wrote a post called Bungle In The Bundle, about how some familiar bundles hamper, rather than help, good organizing. Actually, it’s more than just the bundles themselves that interfere, it’s the line of thinking that is not working. I call this knot thinking. When you employ knot thinking, you think about knotting things up for safety, but you are not thinking of retrieval and usability.
An example of knot thinking would be stuffing everything into your closet to get it off your floor. As a result, you may feel like your room is under control. You may even feel organized, but that feeling can’t possibly last because you are knot thinking about the closet. Sure, the doors are closed and everything is “tied up” inside, but if you can’t easily retrieve what you want, when you want it, then you are not well organized.
Another example of knot thinking is wrapping up bundles of envelopes in rubber bands. I’ve seen thousands of these bundles in households. Nothing ever goes into them and nothing comes out, until the rubber band dries up and breaks. Accordion files are not much better. Yes, papers get stuffed in, but between the flap and the elastic they are less welcoming than a file drawer. Papers tend to stay trapped in them like a Trapper Keeper.
Finally, here’s an example that involves a well-labeled file, in a file cabinet, that I STILL consider knot thinking. When you put your to-do’s into a file drawer, you may succeed in clearing off your desk, but you are sabotaging nothing less than the whole point of getting organized. The point of getting organized is to take the less important stuff out of the way so that you can easily get to the most important stuff. When you tie up the most important action items in the file drawer, you are knot thinking. File cabinets are for files you need to be able to find reliably, not for files that need to stand up, wave at you, and say “pay me,” “review me,” “write me,” etc. By tying these action items up in a file cabinet, you strangle the life out of them.