I’m a firm believer in organization — a place for everything and everything in its place. Perhaps that need for structure is part of my ruler tendencies. But how else would you find anything?

Mr. HalfFull finds my arranging and rearranging process quite humorous. If something new comes into the house, I have to find the perfect spot for it. This involves testing it out in different locations and assessing if it’s the right home. Sometimes it’s a cascade effect of moving other items to new locations. Mr. HalfFull just watches my shell game and laughs.

Organized Chaos?

Disorganized Playroom

I’m not sure anyone could classify this playroom as organized chaos.

I realize there are different forms of organization. Some people call their messes organized chaos. They claim they know exactly where things are in the rubble, but I’m not sure I buy it.

Although Steven Johnson, the author of Where Good Ideas Come From, claims you need this sort of disorder for innovation in his TED Talk (around 7:20). “This is the kind of chaotic environment where ideas were likely to come together.” Perhaps that’s why I’m not a Creator or an Explorer.

Tax Returns

I hope you filed your tax returns (or extensions) by now…otherwise you’re late!

Since I quit my job, I decided to tackle our taxes myself this year. It was my first time self-preparing joint taxes, so I had yet to fully experience Mr. HalfFull’s organizational system for documents.

Let my start by saying that Mr. HalfFull is not a messy person. If that were the case, we would probably need separate homes.

But Mr. HalfFull is not a filer; he’s more of a piler. So when I asked for various documents to support my tax return preparation, he simply referred me to his pile. Sometimes he even told me that he didn’t keep a particular document, so I made phone calls and waited on hold to verify information. But interestingly (or frustratingly) enough, I later found all the documents I needed…in his pile.

Project Pile

After I spent almost a full week on our tax returns, I decided to tackle Mr. HalfFull’s pile. I found statements from 2010 still unopened in their envelopes. In fact, I found a bunch of those from 2010 and started to wonder what I had been doing to him that year!

Organized Playroom

After thought and reorganization, the playroom is actually usable. Doesn’t it look inviting?

After three FULL days of organizing, I was finally done. My original plan was just to tackle the papers and create a filing system. But then I got ambitious, so I reorganized his entire closet. I got into stuff and memorabilia.  I even moved his shoes.

On my final day of organization, Mr. HalfFull spent most of the day sick on the couch. So he was groggy and unprepared for all the changes. He was not happy when he saw his new closet!

I thought I had done this marvelous thing in organizing his closet. I honestly thought he would love it. I didn’t make changes frivolously, and I always did it with his needs in mind. I made things he uses regularly easy to access. I didn’t throw anything away without permission. I did a really good job and was hurt that it wasn’t valued or appreciated, especially after all the time invested.

But my real appreciation came a few days later.

Mr. HalfFull stored a credit card in a box in his closet and needed this particular card. I was asleep, so it wasn’t easy for him to ask me (without ending up with a grumpy wife). So he thought about my amazing organizational system and guessed where I would store it. My filing system was so intuitive that it was in the first place he looked!

I feel like that’s the highest praise for organization. Thought and good design up front makes the system work. My faith in the power of organization has been restored!

  • Do you believe that chaos creates an environment ripe for innovation?
  • Do you prepare your own tax returns?
  • Are you a filer or a piler?
  • Do you enjoy organization or is it a necessary evil?
  • Have you spent time doing what you thought was a good deed, only to have it rejected?  Did time change the reaction?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!