Ironically, I crave order. I am most peaceful when things are in their proper places and my space is clean and orderly. I know this about myself, but I've never lived that way. To be fair, I am much better than I used to be. For example, during my sophomore year of college, I ended up cutting myself painfully because I crawled into my dorm bed one night and sliced my leg on a razor that was under the covers. (Why was a razor in the bed, you ask? Well, I'd just dumped all my shower stuff onto the bed because there was no room for it anywhere else in the room. Because, you know, the rest of the room was quite cluttered.) Since I no longer store dangerous implements under the covers, that indicates significant progress on my part.
I've had quite a few decades to analyze my aversion to order and theorize why I am, as my mom used to say, "a walking disaster area."
1. I am a very visual person. During tests, I used to close my eyes and picture exactly where in the textbook an answer was. I could always visualize it perfectly, down to its precise location on the page. Handy for test-taking but it's a problem when I feel like I have to be able to see something for it to exist. My house is covered in piles of projects that I can't put away because if I do, I fear I'll never pull them out again.
2. I am an obsessive multi-tasker. This is exceptionally convenient for PTA and Scouts because I enjoy taking on multiple volunteer activities at once. It's not great for my countertops. I take up a lot of space with all my projects and never put anything away because (as indicated in #1, above) I might forget to finish it and because "I'm just running over here really fast to finish something else first, then I'll be right back..."
3. I like to be reminded of who I am, again from a visual perspective. My piles of books, papers, and art supplies are very unique to me. No one else has these exact piles. If I made my rooms look like Pottery Barn ads, I'd just be matching some other house and there would be nothing special about my space. (I know this last reason is lame. Even I roll my eyes when I read it, but I think it's true for me.)
4. I get bored very easily. Honestly, I think this is the biggest problem I have with systems and order. I buy into a new system for a while, it works great, and then I get bored and want to change things up. The easiest way to change things up, of course, is just to go back to being sloppy for a while.
Last month, I seemed to overcome my aversion to order in one area - my bathroom. For years, my half of the bathroom counter was covered in stuff but for at least four weeks now, I've kept it straight and organized. The picture at the top of this posting is a bit dark, but you can see that I have a few "identity items" in a corner but the rest of the countertop is clear. Makeup is in the drawer, not on the countertop. Even more amazingly, when I need a hairclip or bubble bath, I know just where to find it and I'm not looking through drawers and drawers of junk in a fruitless search.
I like this new bathroom order. I suspect my husband is thrilled but afraid to get his hopes up that it will last. I understand this, but it will. Oddly enough, something in me has shifted in terms of how I deal with that particular space.
My inner writer is whispering to me that I need an equivalent drastic organization for my writing habits. I need a system and an order for writing to fit into my day to day life. It needs a place in my day and probably a place in my heart as well. Right now I'm treating my writing like I used to treat my ponytail holders - I toss it in a corner and hope that I'll find it again when I have some spare time.