Organization is a slippery concept for some


I’ve been reflecting recently on the fact that I’m not a very organized person.

It started when I read about a person decorating a Christmas tree who discovered a string of lights that only half worked. They realized they had packed that faulty string after last Christmas season instead of fixing or discarding it.

Maybe you’re thinking, who would do that? If so, then you’re one of those organized people who takes care of things right away. If the lights don’t work, you get rid of them, right? I’m not like that. I’m challenged when it comes to organizing. I’m in the group that knows the lights don’t work but stores them for next year, anyway. I can’t explain it.

Nancy and I split some of the chores around the place. She handles many more tasks than I do, but we have a sort of division of labor. She does the checkbook, for example. I did it for the first two months of our marriage. We both tired of overdrafts that resulted from my guess-timation method. We haven’t had an overdraft since she took over. Our organizational skills are different.

When we decorate for Christmas, I put up the tree and string the lights. She hangs the ornaments. I could do that part, but it wouldn’t look good. I’m better at casually looping some strings of lights around the tree.


This year as always, I pulled strings of lights from the storage bins and tested them one at a time. Five sets worked. One only lit up halfway. That’s when I remembered that I had meant to fix that string last year. Instead I put it in the bin with the working sets. Nancy would have fixed it or replaced it last year. Different organizational skills.

When I left reporting and started freelancing, Nancy suggested I get a desk organizer, a metal mesh basket with lots of compartments for ballpoint pens and scissors and paper clips and push pins and other odds and ends. Left to me, all that stuff would have been scattered over the desktop or jumbled in the drawers. My method would have everything where I could find it with an all-out search. Her method has things where I don’t have to waste time searching.

Before Thanksgiving, I went through the ballpoint pens in the desk organizer. Two of them still work. I’ll bet an organized person would have thrown the other ones away. I kept them just in case they magically refill with ink.

I also have a drawer organizer with many compartments. That would be a good idea except that mine is a mess, with a bunch of unsharpened pencils, a couple of unlabeled thumb drives, three or four buttons that provided free admission to powwows in Lower Brule, a lapel pin advertising Jerry Garcia neckties, a chocolate candy, a guitar tuner with a dead battery, three Tootsie Roll pops, two sets of iPhone earbuds, a newspaper clipping of my big sister being chosen DAR candidate back in high school and a color photograph of me singing with Myron Lee and the Cadies. There are some dog-eared pages sticking out from under the drawer organizer. I’m afraid to lift the thing to see what those papers are.

Nancy came home once with two small cases with many sliding drawers. She figured I could use the cases in the garage to neatly store nuts and bolts and hooks and nails and screws. I use the cases, but I haven’t really separated things. Nuts and screws are together, nails are everywhere. Several screwdriver bits are scattered around. A dried-out Sharpie and a couple of bass guitar picks are in there, along with a charger for an electric screwdriver I no longer have, and some blades for a utility knife I left somewhere.

Looking in the cases for a hook the other day, I discovered a packet of spare Christmas tree bulbs and two brand new fuses. An organized person would have immediately put those things with the other tree stuff. I dropped them back in the compartment. I might remember where they are if I need them.

Related Topics: TERRY WOSTER
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