To Be Organized or Not to Be Able to Organize

Growing up, all children are supposed to learn the same basic skills: politeness, respect and organization. Unfortunately, I never understood the importance of at least one (and maybe more) of those skills. To this day, I have absolutely no penchant for organization.

Although my mom stopped nagging me about cleaning my room years ago (she found it was pointless), my teachers continue to be disappointed by the state of my backpack, even if indirectly.

Earlier this year, a teacher for whom I tutor told me I would need to make sure her freshmen stay organized.

“They never learned how to use binders,” she said. “They just put every paper in their backpack and then they never find them again!”

I accepted her mission with a bright red face—for as much as she might have been talking about her students, she was also certainly talking about me.

I discovered years ago that the quickest way to pack up after class is indiscriminately shoving papers into my backpack. The question for me has never been can I find a piece of paper, but rather how long is it going to take? (Through careful estimation, I believe it to be about five minutes.)

I’m not sure why organization and I never hit it off. Some of my friends spend their Friday nights with cold, grey filing cabinets; although these devices can never love back, my friends assure me it’s worth it in the end.

I tend to take them at their word because I no longer own a filing cabinet—it was relegated to my “Organizational Junk” pile along with every other system I’ve ever tried. Just like some people subscribe to the latest fad diet, I try the newest organization system (binders, folders, plastic trays). And just like most fad diets, the system never works for long.

My lack of organization is an embarrassment I have often tried to correct, but unfortunately never with success.

Although this year I am trying to be more organized, I find that many things are conspiring against me.

The school’s five minute passing periods are not long enough to sort, hole punch, staple and file. Because I don’t see six-minute passing periods in our future however, there remain only two reasonable ways to make organization (for me, for those freshmen and for everyone!) more possible.

Teachers pass out thousands of papers every week, and the vast majority of those papers are not sorted, hole punched or stapled. Perhaps they could facilitate organization by using the copier that does those things.

Or they could just not pass out those pesky papers at all.