A while back when I wrote about the whole dishwasher dilemma, I talked to--who else?--Stacy, the Designated Neatnik where I work. I thought I'd get points for being all concerned and worried about how to effectively convey whether the contents of the dishwasher were clean or dirty, a fantasy that faded as Stacy furrowed her brow in bewilderment. "What's there to 'convey'?" she said, a little petulantly I thought. "Wouldn't it just be easier to put the dishes away when they're clean?"
Obviously, she just didn't get it.
Or could it be: I'm the one who doesn't get it? And I realized that I'd stumbled upon the the Universal Trait of the Persistently Tidy:
Neatniks Are Simpletons
I know: I'm misusing the word "simpleton"here. Oops! But you know what I mean: Neatniks keep it simple. They don't make e-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-e strategies for, say, indicating whether the dishwasher is clean or dirty. They unload the dishwasher and move on.
They have a do-it-now approach. They don't assume they will have "more time later" to do the task at hand. In fact, they feel the opposite: they don't know when they'll have another chance to do the task before them, so they figure they might as well do it now.
Neatniks are results oriented, rather than process oriented. They aren't interested in comprehensive "systems" or rituals that require time and energy to maintain. They don't have to have an item on their "To-Do" list (written on special paper! or input and categorized on their Blackberry!) to do the chore. When bills come in and they have the money, they write out a check and deduct the amount from their account, simple as that. They don't require special pens or stamps or for their desk to be perfectly tidy in order to do the job.
They don't backtrack: if they do something that's not on their list, they don't go back and write it down so they can cross it off. The Naturally Tidy that I know aren't interested in keeping logs and lists, schedules and who-did-what-when-and-how-much record-keeping. Because they keep things simple, Neatiniks don't build up a huge store of dread about doing what needs to be done, which in turn makes chores easier to do.
Contrary to popular belief, Neatniks aren't perfectionists. They value timeliness over so-called "perfection." If they don't have time to shop for the perfect gift, they give a gift card. If they don't have time to pull out all the furniture when vacuuming before guests arrive, they vacuum the heavily-trafficked areas nonetheless. Neatniks avoid an all-or-nothing approach. They figure something is better than nothing.
The idea that being organized is actually easier than being a slob is perhaps the hardest to swallow and yet that's exactly what professional organizers like Regina Leeds promise. Certainly if you are not among the blessedly, naturally tidy, you have struggled enough with this issue. If you're like me, maybe the break-through you need is to think of getting organized as finally abolishing pointless routines, non-value-added rituals, and over-stringent standards.
Photo by Alpay Ulku.