When is it O.K. NOT to be Organized?

The other day a friend asked, when is it OK NOT to be organized. I was stumped by the question, but I’ve been giving the matter a lot of thought, ever since.

Organizing is ultimately not about sorting out your stuff, your time, and your space. It is about sorting out your priorities. So it’s obvious to most of us that we need to get organized for high priority things like being productive at work or paying our bills on time, but surely there are other areas where we don’t have to be organized. Here’s a few possibilities.

Enjoying a beautiful day

It’s Saturday. You were planning on organizing the garage, but the sun is out and you want to take the family to the beach. The organizing can wait. You’re not going to be a victim of the clock, so you head out after the last family member has woken up, which is about noon. That puts you in traffic, but so what? Whether it’s three hours with the family in traffic or at the beach, it’s all good, right? As you’re being spontaneous, you don’t waste time packing up, but halfway to the beach you’re really wishing you’d remembered to check if the diaper bag actually had any diapers left in it. Not to worry. Everybody loves that fresh baby smell.


Finally vacation is here and the one thing you definitely want to take a vacation from is the organizing. Besides, your travel agent has taken care of everything. All you have to worry about is packing up and that only takes 15 minutes. Only thing is, once you’re at the airport, you’re really wishing you had remembered your passport. No sweat, you don’t live far from the airport and you enjoy the adrenaline rush of cutting it close. You make your flight by a whisker, but realize it would have been nice if you had remembered to grab your prescription, when you were home. Oh well, who cares. You’re on vacation! How hard can it be to fill your prescription in Puerto Vallarta?

Throwing a party

It’s a special occasion. You want to throw a party and throw your cares away! You’ll throw your clutter away on another day. You can chuck a lot of it in the guest room and lock the door. The rest you can cover up with blankets. It’s your friends who are coming, so they won’t care. You haven’t had a chance to run the dishwasher, but since it’s pot luck, I’m sure someone will bring paper plates and serving spoons. After all, you bought the wine. Or did you? Well you might have, if you succumbed to the tyranny of a shopping list. You can still make a dash for the liquor store, because you can count on the fact that no one ever shows up to a party on time.

If these scenarios don’t sit right with you, then perhaps you see some of the hidden benefits of organizing. Maybe it seems like I’m a painting a desolate picture where it’s NEVER OK not to be organized. Of course there are occasions when the organizing takes a back seat, but I hope I have demonstrated that these occasions have consequences. As I said, organizing is about priorities. It’s about taking the less important stuff out of the way, so that you can get to the most important stuff. I think it’s a mistake not to recognize the priority of a beautiful day, a vacation, and a party. They are all rare and special. A little organizing will help you get the most out of them.

Finally, organizing is not just for the unpleasant parts of your life. It helps you enjoy the good parts more. If getting organized is an unpleasant experience, it’s probably because your systems are too complicated. If you can’t figure out how to simplify them, I can help you. Just ask.