Thursday, June 8, 2017

Neatness Vs. Order

Neatness and order are not the same.   It is possible to have neatness without order, and order without neatness, but the consequences are different.

Neatness without order

If you have neatness without order, your house will look gorgeous inside and you’ll have lots of bins and drawers and places to put things, but you will still feel like your life is in shambles and like you can’t get a handle on everything.  (Duplicates everywhere. Things getting lost.)

Neatness without order is often what one achieves when you have to clean up the guest room for people coming to visit but you don’t have time to organize it all so you just stash things in boxes and hide them away.

Neatness without order is also what advertisements are selling when you see a picture marketing the newest desk or closet system or garage-rack-hanging-from-the-ceiling.  It’s visually appealing. It makes you think if you only had that thing, then you could be organized and live a less-cluttered life.

What it doesn’t show you is the mental systems that are in place to create order and which maintain order over time. It doesn’t show you the work that people do to keep things looking neat and organized over months and years. (Yes, it is a little bit of work. It’s just spread out and made habitual over time of practice.)

Order without neatness

Order without neatness is not particularly visual appealing, but it works. The consequences of order without neatness is that a person’s life flows pretty well, they are on top of things…but they may have a feeling every so often that they want to escape the complexities of life. Or they might stare longingly at home decorating magazine spreads of minimalistic interiors. Systems are in place to handle things, but they aren’t very pretty.

Sometimes people think that order-without-neatness is not really organized because it doesn’t look nice.  I disagree. The purpose of organization is to help us deal successfully with life and live happily, while not missing appointments or losing things, or neglecting important responsibilities.  If you can do that with your systems, you are living successfully.  The marketers selling the spiffy organization aids don’t want you to think so, but you are.  You don’t have to listen to them.

If you want to try to create more visual appeal for your systems, you can.  If you have order without neatness, odds are you have enough wisdom to see beneath the surface of any object designed to organize and tell whether it is really going to help you or whether it will actually become a hinderance.  (Yeah, hindrances exist, I’m sure you can think of at least a few examples.)

Happy medium

I have a certain amount of order-without-neatness. I have personally noticed that if I try to add too much neatness, I actually create more of a burden for myself.  (Or this could be ADD tendencies...) Specialized containers for odd-shaped things can break and then are hard to replace.  If something breaks from a matching set of containers, it is almost impossible to find a replacement for that either.  If I let categorization can get too granular it can be too unwieldy to maintain.  Bags in boxes in containers in crates make things hard to get to for often-used things, but they are okay for things rarely accessed.

I think the key is to prioritize functionality over style. It is best to find a happy medium. Your home may not look like a Better Homes and Gardens organization issue feature, but it will be attractive and really functional.

1 comment:

Rozy Lass said...

Yes! Great thoughts. I'm not obsessive with either; I think I've found the happy medium that works for me. It's been very interesting living in a farming community for the high school years of our two youngest boys. They have told me that of all the homes they've been in of their friends (MANY) ours is the cleanest, most well organized, and prettiest decorated of all of them. And here I was feeling sorry for myself because it didn't look like a magazine photo. My guiding scripture is D&C 132:5, and the example of the temples. I've taught RS lessons (at extra meetings) about patterning our homes after the temple. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.