Writing Gremlins: Disorganization

Confessions of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind, piles-everwhere, disorganized messy.  I guess that title is a bit long, but it’s pretty accurate.  I am the bane of my husband (and my daughter) because everywhere I go, I have piles.  I don’t mean to, but they appear none-the-less.  You see, if I put something away, it will be lost to me forever.  My piles are organized in my brain, but their aesthetic value, um, not so much.

I tend to be this way on-line as well.  My desk top is cluttered because saving something in documents means consigning it to the nether-world where it may never be seen again.  This happens in part because I can’t remember what I called it.  Yep, lets blame it on poor memory.  While Gram is quite able to organize, she is a perfectionist who gets bogged down in trying to do it ‘just right’.  Imma, on the other hand, is a messy extraordinaire.  She’s easily distractable and has a tendency to flit from project to project without finishing what she started.

I’m sure you can see why the existence of these two in the same brain could cause organizational issues.

So what? 

Disorganized people tend to be less productive than organized people.  This is because they spend a lot of time looking through piles (even when they know exactly which pile to look through) in the hunt for a needed item.  They also never complete some projects that get swept into the nether world by a bunch of new piles.  They fight distractibility and time management issues.  AND they cause other people in their lives to have chronic headaches!  If you’ve ever moved something of a piler’s, you know exactly what I mean.

Now what?

Knowing the problem is half the battle, right?  I wish.  Knowing the problem is a good thing, but it doesn’t often help the disorganized messy to change.  You see, they often have no idea how to go about the change process, because the same underlying issues still haunt them.  Tackling the mess disorganization (in a way that will stick) is often a life-long process.  Imma and Gram have used many organization techniques over the years, but inevitably, it hits an epic fail at some point.  As writers, this blasts their productivity and takes time away from other tasks on their agenda.  Disorganization, especially for the writer, means a lot of extra work in the end.

Then what?

Gram and Imma would like to share some techniques that have helped them to find a happy medium when it comes to disorganization.

1.  KISS–Keep It Simple Stupid!  This is probably the most productive technique.  We tend to complicate things and that leads to disorganization.  If we remember to keep it simple, we do much better.

2.  D-Stuff–Too much stuff to keep track of lends to disorganization as well.  De-stuff-ing requires assessing what, in the areas of time and things, is most important and what can be culled.  Not every good thing is the best thing, and choosing the best over the good gives us less we have to organize.

3.  PAIN!–Put it Away, In its place, Now!  Another problem the messy confronts is laziness distraction before a task is completed.  A new task calls, previous task goes in a pile, and the pile grows as previous tasks never find their way to their HOME.

4.  HOPE–Have One Place for Everything  and put it there every time.  This one requires follow-through.  The messy cannot afford to ‘do it later’ because later never comes.  It also requires discipline (gulp!).

5.  LITE–Like Items Together Every time.  Sometimes we tend to micro-organize which means more to remember.  So instead, put all office items together in the same area and so on.  This one harks back on KISS.

6.  OUT–One Undertaking at a Time!  Multi-tasking is all well and good for some, but for the disorganized, it leads to chaos.  Only you know how many tasks you can complete at the same time.  Sometimes, keeping the other items in mind as you go can head off the disorganization that comes from multi-tasking (and not completing any of the tasks).  The definition of complete in this context goes all the way to putting everything away when done.

How about you?  What suggestions do you have to help the disorganized?  Do you need help yourself?  How does disorganization distract you from your writing?  Do you have a story to share?  Why is organization important for the writer?



  1. I am so with you on this one. I often subscribe to the…Do it, Dump it, Delegate it, Do it less well list. It kind of works, but I have to keep reminding myself of this mantra 😉

    • I hear you about the reminders. I have put up some post-it-notes to remind me to take my own advice lol. I like yours too:)

  2. Great article, much in common! Best advice for pilers….never let go of a piece of paper, document, or article–until it is put in it’s correct place…ever. Lovely ideal isn’t it? Practice does make purpose, with discipline…..hahaha “:)

    • hahahahahah! Love it. That’s a great piece of advice. Discipline? What’s that? I’m learning not to create so many pieces of paper. Since I seldom ever look at them later (if I could find them) there is no reason to have them. Gulp! It’s all about the paradigm shift 🙂

      • Discipline, ie, using one notebook to make notes instead of 573 little pieces of paper, that was a big step. We often forget what that note was even about…haha~ The paradigm shift did it. Or the devil made me do it, one or the other. I’ll have to write myself a note about that one. Where’s a little piece of paper?….hahahahaa!

    • Raymond, does every writer do that? Or I have notebooks, but I have tons of them with only a few pages writen on them before I have to get a new ‘fresh’ book for some reason (I like new notebooks). My paradigms are shifting underneath me – feels like an earthquake! 🙂

      • Ansuyo, I do wonder about that myself. I have notebooks with two or three pages written in them. The muse has notebooks that are one page, three pages, seven pages, scribbled in horrible handwriting of the worst kind and no consistency at all. I still have paper piles. Printer failure test papers folded in half (ie. read scrap paper) with notes written on every side, upside down, every which way; I look at them a month later or even the next day and wonder what that was about…hahahhaha…so yes, I think we all do it, just some are more disorganized than others. I’m worse than my muse. I get a new notebook instead of having to flip too many pages to find a new sheet to write on when I’M in a hurry.
        I’m like my friend Christy, I like the ‘hope’ idea too, I hope I get better at organizing my disorganization. Photos..digital, don’t get me started on those, I have pictures of everything everywhere, in files within files within other files..and lots of copies everywhere and backups for backups.all dated or not, May pictures are recopied but in August and all named the same…..hahahahhahhaha….the percolating insanity of a photographer is no better than the burbling disorganization of a writer….’ya gotta take solace in that! hahahhahaha…haha! “:)

    • HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! My husband gets so frustrated with my piles (of notebooks, papers, etc.). What that means is they are not HIS piles!!!!! He does better than I, but still. Maybe a better picture for my post would have been a gremlin (or me) buried beneath a pile of paper?? I think there is value to the memory in the process of writing things down if that helps? HOPE indeed!!! One piece of paper at a time! THe advent of the digital age has made it better – and WORSE! The really sad part is how much time we waste looking for things. For now — the saga continues…. Angie

      • Angie, I’ll make a note of that and put it right on top of the pile. Wendy is totally organized, her notebooks and organizational skills are ‘to die for’. Good thing! Her notebooks are neat. In order. *sigh Her efforts reduce the average level of organization around here by about 99%. The saga is right! “:) ~ R

  3. Some very good advice here – thank you

    • Thanks Anne. Do you struggle with this issue? Do you organize your photos digitally? That is a mixed blessing lol. Thanks for stopping by Gram and Immas 🙂 Angie

  4. I like the ‘HOPE’ idea, very helpful. Thanks!

    • Thanks Christy:)

  5. Besides, there’s always my backup plan, a second, third and fourth pile, just keep piling it up. Now I have piles of notebooks. MUCH better. “:)) ~ R

  6. elizabeth

    I have loads of stuff on my desk. Many of them being notebooks, books, files, bits of paper, sticky notes, and even paper plates! The only time I clean it all up is when the mother-in-law is coming over. Then the likes get gathered with their likes and they all get tossed into the front bedroom until such time as they can be rescued. I’d love to be better organized, but I’m afraid I’m just a messy person.

    Good article with great advice, if only I could follow it 🙂

    • Lol. I do the same thing. I used to bag stuff up and put it in the shower (and pray no one peeked!). I can’t even get to my desk right now because everything gets dumped in my “cave” grrrrr! I am working on opening it up and getting rid of stuff. That is a difficult thing to do, but I realized the stuff was just dragging me down. I choose to loose the chains. I’ll never be a ‘cleany’, but I can do better:) Maybe by the time I’m too old to see my computer screen??????? he he

    • The ultimate danger of being a piler is sliding a whole pile out of sight under a pile of books or under the bed or on a bookshelf somewhere and forgetting about it. You might even lose something important, but archaeologically, it will be interesting what you discover a few years from now.
      I have a handy bookshelf (wall-sized) and a couple of the shelves are taller for ‘laydown hardcover books’ that are too big for the regular shelves, and unfortunately, that pair of shelves ends up being a laydown-pile-up magnet for the quintessential collection of piles of important stuff. Papers galore. An OLD collection of papers galore. It’s right handy to my desk for the old ‘clear-the-desk-so-there’s-room-for-the-keyboard-big–pile shift habit too, what was I thinking?……”:) *sigh

      • Amen to that! Or, in Angie world, sliding a bunch of piles into a box that never comes back out from hiding. 🙂

      • Angie, that gers devious. At least then you can say “out of sight, out of mind’. My heaps and piles are in plain view, plagiarizing my thoughts ever time I turn around. Boxes in hiding all have to come out of the closet sometime. Solution: never move. hahahhaha!

      • Lol. I vote for the never move thing. My garage is still full from the last move. If I haven’t seen it in 6 years, do you think I’m going to need it??????

  7. t

    Start with your socks. If you can rotate your socks – religiously – then organization of more important things becomes much more achievable.

    That, and your socks will last a lot longer as well.

    • Ha ha ha ha!!! I hope that works for you — not gonna happen here! My husband rotates things though (towels,…..). But then he’s already much more organized than I. I wonder if rotation is the reason? Thanks for the comment 🙂

  8. I definitely like the “OUT” idea — multitasking is not one of my strong points.. You have a wonderful blog, so I am giving you an award! You can pick it up at my blog:

    Keep up the great work!

    • Thank you so much for the comment and the award! I hope you’ll hang in there with me this summer as it is crazy around here 🙂

  9. Sorry, I gave the wrong link for the blog award in my previous comment…this is the correct link:

    • Thank you again Judith 🙂

  10. We all tend to let things pile up, and sometimes we ” see ” the mess and try to correct it. I’m sure a load of bloggers will find themselves in it


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