Ten Lessons from 2012 – Four: “Order is Essential.”

A great discovery that occurred to me in 2012 was the tangible link that exists between the order of my space, the order of my time, and what I manage to achieve.

I was one of those disorganized youngsters who would always argue with my parents when asked to clean my room.  I’d live among the mess and convince myself that I didn’t mind.  I’d tell myself that I knew where everything was when I needed to find it.

As I moved into college and had to start living with other people, I found myself struggling to break my disorganized habits.  A series of severely disorganized roommates finally caused me to break habits that stretched back into my earliest years.  For a time, I became compulsive about cleaning my kitchen, my room, and my car.

The incredible thing that I discovered was that the more I maintained a very specific order in my space, the more I felt that compulsion toward orderliness and organization move into the structuring of my time.  Suddenly my to-do lists became more immediately accomplishable.  I’d awaken earlier than usual in my clean space.  I’d begin my day charging through the things that I needed to get done.  I’d find time to eat a healthy meal, to bike to class instead of driving, to write that extra article.

So naturally it followed that the increase in order of my time meant that I was accomplishing more as a result.

I won’t pretend to have a substantial hypothesis for the causality of this chain of events.  It could just be incidental.  It could be exclusive to the way that my personality works.  All I know is that throughout 2012 I began making order a significant priority.  It was something that I was very interested in cultivating on a daily and hourly basis rather than only periodically – when things got just too messy.

And I think, as a definite result.  I accomplished more in 2012 than in almost any year previous.  I was also generally happier.

I think at the essence of order – as simple as it may be – as minimally invasive as it may be – is the idea that you are exercising control over one area of your life.

The act of exercising that control, reshaping that one area of your life, the organization of your things within the space you live, seems to reinforce your feeling of general competence to reshape any part of the world – to sculpt with your time a pathway into which you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Maybe this is an elaborate justification for the philosophical significance of something as mundane as cleaning my room.  I don’t know.

When I look back on my year and how satisfied I am with how it developed, I must believe there is something essentially relevant to my choice to be more concentrated on organization.  Inside that organization, I am convinced I made room for peace and quiet to develop.  I gave myself room to breathe, and grow.