I'll be the first to admit it -- I'm not the most organized person in the world, both personally and professionally. I could tell many a tale of my mother coming into my room, irate at me for it being a mess. But I would always tell her the same thing. "Mom, it might not look like it, but I know where everything is!"
And it's true. Even though things are a little scattered in my bedroom still to this day, I could pull out that jacket my roommate wants to borrow; I know exactly where it is. Even though I have papers scattered around my desk, I know where the particular one is that I need for a meeting. I rarely lose things. I don't forget to do certain tasks or submit things late. I'd like to say I operate under "controlled chaos," and for the most part, it doesn't bother me.
But then there's those couple of times a year, usually when I'm feeling stressed, that I look at my desk (or my room), and think, "Man, I need to straighten this place up!" And I find new places for papers (maybe actually in folders in my filing cabinet!) and I put all the old issues of ADVANCE that have been accumulating on my desk back to their rightful home -- a bookshelf. My desk looks bare, I feel a little more relaxed and I promise myself that I'll be more organized from now on -- if only because a tidy desk might help make a tidy mind. And then the next week rolls around and my new organization plan goes down the toilet.
My other problem with organization is that I am a pack rat. I need to keep absolutely everything. It doesn't matter that I haven't worn two-thirds of all the shoes I own in over a year -- I need to keep them. Along with all of my papers from high school and college and countless birthday cards -- you'll never know when I might need them, right?
For you laboratorians, I understand organization is much more important. You can't have patients' records or test results scattered willy-nilly around the lab; they could get lost or ruined. But sometimes during a hectic day when you're running test after test, putting papers and other materials in their proper place might not be the first thing on your mind. And having clutter all over the lab might make important materials harder to find, get in your way while you're trying to work and just disturb the "feng shui" of your workplace.
Have you found a good organization system that works for your lab? How have you gotten rid of the clutter? Please share your tips with your fellow laboratorians -- and this ADVANCE reporter -- on how to get through the chaos and cut down on the clutter. In the meantime, I'll do my bi-monthly desk cleaning.