• Joel T. Sanders

You're More Disorganized Than You Think You Are

Updated: Oct 20


The artistry of living is putting order and beauty to disheveled and disorderly things.


Organized finances help grow your wealth. Organized grocery shopping and cooking can improve your health. A well-ordered home improves mental well-being. And so on.


Unfortunately, none of these are easy, because we're often blind to our own messes.


You Can't Fix What You Don't Know is Broken


I live in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is a generally disorganized place. Even in the very best neighborhoods, it's common to see crumbling buildings and trash on the streets.


Permits and licenses that would take 5 minutes online in the mainland U.S., or maybe an hour in-person, take all day—and sometimes, multiple months—in Puerto Rico.


Two years ago, when I came to visit a friend from Virginia who had moved to San Juan, I noticed low, looping telephone cables blocking the path on some of the sidewalks. Some cables dangled so low, you literally had to duck to walk underneath them.


This was several months after Hurricane Maria, so I asked my friend when they were going to fix the telephone posts and cables. He laughed long and hard, and said, "What are you talking about? For Puerto Rico, this is 'fixed.'"


Not surprisingly, it's difficult to find organized and disciplined employees in Puerto Rico. It's not that the people here are lazy or incapable. But since things just clunk along in a messy, disorganized way, messiness and disorganization is considered normal and not a problem.


I'm obviously overgeneralizing to make a point: the environment we operate in impacts our behavior and attitudes. Years of sloppy disorganized living has momentum behind it, creating more years of sloppy, disorganized living into the future.


First See Your Own Messes


And this is most businesses: sloppy and disorganized systems keep things kind of clunking along. But the people running those businesses don't see it that way because it feels normal. Like the low hanging telephone lines in Puerto Rico, there doesn't appear to be anything to "fix" for someone on the inside.


There is perhaps no greater payoff in life than to organize your work and business. What if you could get more done in four days than you currently do in five? You could potentially close your business every Friday and have three-day weekends every week. Or, you could work Friday mornings and close at noon.


The systems and processes for getting new business, delivering services to clients, and hiring employees could be built inside of your business.


But you have to take a hard, self-critical look. You have to see the dangling cables and other messes that are right in front of you, but that you've come to accept as normal.


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