Roman Malanke

Perfect Order as Keystone of Productivity

I love when things are in order. For me this is the necessary condition for any productivity. I sometimes think that my passion for order in everything is too strong and may even be considered by someone as a sort of paranoia. But it is not so. At least while it helps me be more efficient and agile.

There are people who think that order is the sign of boredom and it takes too much time to practice it, which otherwise might be spent on some fun activities. However, for me it is not true. I believe that keeping things in order isn’t time consuming. It may seem so in the beginning, until the habit is fully developed. But in a long run it actually helps to save a great deal of time. Also order doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be creativity. I for one cannot do anything creative when surrounded by clutter.

Here are some of the manifestations of order in my daily life:

  • In my wallet I always have all the bills laying strictly face-up and sorted from the highest denomination to the lowest. It only takes a couple of seconds to arrange but it makes me much quicker when it comes to pay for something.
  • On my bookshelf I have separate piles for English, Spanish and Russian books. Of course, this is more aesthetic than practical, but it encourages me to read when I have a free minute.
  • In my wardrobe I have long-sleeve shirts on one side, short-sleeves on the other. I also have a separate corner in there for those shirts that I already wore once after last washing (usually I wear one shirt twice before washing it).
  • On desktops of my computers I have absolutely nothing — really, not a single icon. This area is strictly for the documents I’m working on right now. This helps me concentrate on a task at hand. As soon as I’m done with it I put resulting files to a respective folder for future references. These folders are organized very plainly and simply. I no longer bother with multi-level filing and practice plain one level structure. For it is easier now to be searcher than filer (I use Windows Search, which indexes all folders such as “Personal”, “Jobs”, “Guitar”, etc.)
  • On my iPod I have all the metadata in perfect order. All album covers are in place, all genres are specified and so on. This makes experience of listening and surfing through music so much fun. For this I love Apple’s products — their functionality and user experience seem to be all about order, very simple and thought-trough.

And this list can go on and on. Having order in the kitchen, for example, inspires me to cook more often.

I’ve found for myself that to achieve order it is first necessary to simplify everything that can be simplified and get rid of all unnecessary things. In fact I always associate order with simplicity and minimalism.

To illustrate this I have a good example. Probably everyone at any given point of life has their favorite garments that they wear more often than others. I am always like that. Usually these are clothes I bought last, so that they better reflect my current moods and fashion visions. At the same time there are attires from the old days that got lost somewhere deep in the bottom which I haven’t touched for years. So what I did recently was I dug out those old pants and t-shirts, said good bye to them and donated to people who needed them more than I. And, voilà, now I have full visibility and perfect order in my wardrobe. And this strategy is applicable for anything.

In virtual world it is also easy to keep order even despite tremendous information overflows of modern age. Terms such as “metadata” and “indexing” are just a few of many concepts that help in organizing virtual assets. People who create software tend to be very intelligent, you know. Usually they provide all the necessary instruments for keeping things in order. Take a look for example at Google’s docs or email — the pinnacle of simplicity and usability in software. The entire infrastructure for perfect order is there, so why not use it? Even Microsoft’s Office is very good. The same holds true for WordPress, Firefox and many other brilliant software examples.

I am happy to constantly discover more and more ways to bring a little bit more order in my life and the lives of people around me. What pleases me most is that it is like never-ending process of continuous improvement. Once you learned how to enjoy it your life becomes so much better.