I am messy as hell.
The denial is over. Cold hard reality must triumph.
I am a messy, disordered human disaster.
I used to take it personally and as a sign of weakness and moral turpitude in days past. When your world is dominated by the simple-minded cult of anal and orderly, and your world is essentially ruled by such a stern culture of predictability, your messy manner draws expressions of disgust. Shame is thrust at you every cluttered step of the way.
I am not proud of my messiness yet I no longer assume it’s the symptom of a character failing. My messiness is simply emblematic of my personal method of thinking and perceiving my environment.
For instance, at work my department was recently moved to another portion of the floor which necessitated that we pack all our desk belongings and carry them all of 50 feet. In the scattered flurry of the move, the former basket I called my “inbox” was lost, and lately I’ve taken to calling my desktop, its entirety encompassed by four corners, my “inbox.” It’s rather humorous to broadly gesture at my desk when asked by people, who bring paper, where my inbox is. “This is it,” I add.
The principle of the inbox is a trite, one-size-fits-all remedy meant to conquer the distracting and haunting (to many people) presence of disorderliness. Once I began using my desk interchangeably as my “inbox” I feel much more relaxed and in control of my tasks. Inboxes psyche me out. They are oppressively demanding and intransigent, and frankly, a very big pain in my ass. I know it’s work. Yes, I am aware I need to do it. Why do I need it restrained in a stupid container with the unspoken command that it houses potential work which waits impatiently for me to tackle it? No shit. That’s stupid. Inboxes are stupid. Inboxes are like a prodding nanny who seeks to make your life hell by nitpicking its way into your soul, one peck at a time.
My thinking and organization style does not work this way. It never has and it never will. And now that I’ve come to terms with my own organizational (or lack thereof) habits, I consider myself liberated from the tenacious and close-minded limitations of common perceptions and expectations of orderliness. When people now throw papers on my desk I welcome the random disorder for that is my mind. My mind works like a cluttered desk coated with pending tasks, jobs and deadlines. I’m simultaneously able to keep tabs on everything currently populating my mind at any given moment and retrieve specific tasks. My mind is not an inbox. My mind does not order tasks. My mind is random access, and that is persona is mirrored in the organization of my workspace and home personal space.
“David’s desk is not very organized, but his brain is very organized,” said a co-worker in a moment of rare perception when describing the train wreck that is my work area.
She nailed it. I had never thought of it like this.
Once facts and figures and other external stimuli are absorbed and integrated into the cerebral blender of my mind, they lose their random and rambling fatigue upon being regurgitated. In my mind the stimuli is re-assembled into a predictable patchwork or regularity and consistency. Mentally, I am horribly organized, to the point of seemingly pathological distress. Earlier I spoke of my mind resembling a cluttered desk, which is true, on the surface, at the entry point, the pathways which lead into my mind. However, once absorbed and sorted in the subterranean inner workings of my brain, they are hammered into understandable and predictable data.
This is a trying reality in a world where orderliness is a holy virtue. Most people seem obsessed with order and organization. Entire businesses and products are centered around organization. I know of a woman who will come out to wherever it is you wallow in filth and for a hefty sum, she will organize you. This is bullshit, no one is organizing me. I can keep tabs of myself and my work, thank you. I don’t need some idiot coming in and disrupting my flow with their petty organizational fetish. Forget that, man.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I have an ability to “mentally multi-task” and it’s a skill I once assumed was common human nature, but it wasn’t until I entered the work force that I realized it is not a common trait. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I have incredible powers of mental multi-tasking. My brain is able to parcel out various cognitive sectors needing simultaneous attention while drawing barriers sturdy enough to prevent sectors from interfering or overrunning the others. It’s a special gift, I suppose, and I credit it with allowing me to entertain such messy work habits that most would find fearsome.
Number one: dump the inbox.
The inbox is the mediocre tool of a person who is unable to grasp the disorder of his world without such petty contrivances as delusional inboxes. Empty tools which lend a false perception of order.
The inbox attempts to do (weakly) what I’m able to do in my mind.