Learning From Mess

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m due to move to my new place on the 4th of October. That is 1 week tomorrow. Most of my house is already packed up, all my cheap furniture flat packed and other essentials ordered. But I’m now left with my entire lounge full to the rafters with boxes.

I expected that I would have boxes, and I expected a lot of them, but I did not expect that room to turn into a great, big, jumbled mess. While most of the boxes have the room written on them to direct their future homes, not many adequately explain what is within the box.

It got me thinking. Just because I know where to put a box on the day does not mean that it is well organised. I have boxes bound for the kitchen at one end of the room while I have others at the other end. They’re not going to be packed on the lorry together. I don’t know why I wouldn’t have chunked all of those boxes together.

If I took the time to organise those boxes, allocating a space in the lounge to correspond with each room, the loading and unloading of the boxes would become far more efficient.

Furthermore, if I had used a system such as labelling the boxes one to five (with one being the most important), I would know what boxes needed opening first off. That would make the transition to the new home far smoother too.

Of course, it is too late for my move to get organised, but it isn’t too late for my life.

I’m 21 books down since I chose to take this journey. A running theme that I’m seeing pop up through all genres is how it is essential to be organised, plan out strategically and keep taking steps forward. To that end, here is the rest of the article.

The Organised Mind

In terms of evolution, we developed to have to pay attention to very few stimuli. It was important to be able to detect a predator, but not to drive while singing to the radio while thinking about a big presentation at work. Our minds aren’t designed for multi-tasking.

The human mind is exceptionally powerful, but you can’t rely on it to be able to solve your problems without your conscious input. That is why you need to deal with problems on paper and not in your head.

A notebook is the organised persons best friend. When you have a thought, feeling or idea you should jot it down straight away. It is far easier to rationalise a feeling on paper than it is in your head and if you don’t adequately deal with negative emotions they can easily cast damaging, negative frames over your perspective.

On top of that, the notebook should be used to capture things that you need to remember.

Think of your mind as thought it was your phone contract, where you only have a certain internet limit. Once you pass that limit you have to wait until you next pay your bill to use the internet again. Randomly, though, your internet runs out and you haven’t even been using it. How did that happen? It happened because you didn’t close down all the apps running in the background.

That is basically what is happening when you try to retain your to-do list in your head. You’re unnecessary using your minds usage limit up, and it is going to be a detriment to just one person. When a task pops into your head decide whether it will take more than two minutes to complete. If it will, write it down, and if it won’t, do it there and then.

Verging on Obsession

Levitin, the author, suggests that you have an almost obsessive attitude towards the location of your possessions. Everything should have a place and everything should be kept in its respective place. He says that you won’t need to ever stress over lost items again and that it will make life so much more simple for yourself.

While I do agree that this has the potential to be a beneficial addition to your life, I would assume most people have a place for everything already. I have a place for most of my things, but my partner has a habit of finding her own place for my things.

Worst Case Scenario

Another important factor in the book is the idea of planning for the worst case scenario. Most people get flustered when their experience doesn’t perfectly follow along with their expectations. After all, we all visualise, but not all of us do it constructively.

By planning for every eventual situation, you can keep your cool and remain organised because you already know what to do next. By planning ahead, you never have to make decisions on the fly, so you’ll always have the next step.

It is certainly a good idea, and follows along with the comments some other very knowledgeable authors have made, but I personally feel like this would take too long. If you tried to plan for every single eventuality, you won’t have any time left to actually participate in the initial action.

Maybe more important than planning for every possible outcome would be to develop the cognitive tools to handle change better. After all, it is the change from your vision that you have to handle. Or perhaps developing some general action plans that encompass areas of your life rather than specific situations could work.

Either way, the premise of planning for the negative as well as the positive is a solid idea.


It seems like Levitin has a strong belief that to simplify organisation, you need only to simplify your life; know where everything is, know how to handle situations you’ll be faced with and know that your mind cannot do everything for you.

One more important thing I don’t want to skip over is that this is yet another book that mentions the importance of sleep and how you can’t reduce your sleeping hours to increase productivity. Refreshed work is hands down more productive than the tired work you produce during sleeping hours!

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