Happiness,  Organization and Productivity

Organization or obsession?

My fondness for tracking and organizing items has grown over the past few years.

I think it started with my bucket list. One of the items on this list is to watch every movie on any of the AFI’s Top 100 lists. Despite overlap, that was quite a significant list. So, I did what any self respecting organizer would do, and I made a spreadsheet. Sorting alphabetically allowed me to easily remove duplicates. I created additional columns with notes about the date and genre to help minimize decision paralysis when I go to see a new classic flick. In short, I had control.

Alas, my organization did not stop.

Over a year ago, I added every single item of clothing I own into a wardrobe app that helps me track cost per wear, assemble outfits, and conveniently pack for trips. I believe my investments of $5 and far too many hours has paid off in reframing how I think about purchasing clothing and in much more condensed suitcases on my travels.

But where do you cross a line? When does organization become obsession?

  • Is it my Boxycharm stats spreadsheet that I use for my annual Boxycharm review blogs?
  • Is it my makeup spreadsheet and its accompany used products tab?
  • Is it the spreadsheet I used to keep with all my pantry and fridge items in it, allowing me to track what I had available for spontaneous cooking (and partially track exactly how many things my roommate was quietly “liberating” from my cabinets)?
  • Is it the color-coded nail polish flash cards I created last week so I could throw away bulky packaging?
  • Is it alphabetizing your DVDs and creating a semi-functional thematic organization system for your library?

I posit that none of these on their own is a problem.

I’d like to say that if the process of organizing is relaxing to me, that sort of “unproductive productivity” could be seen as self-care. Yet, self-care has become a dangerous term. A whole industry has arisen around promoting unhealthy behaviors in the guise of treating yourself. “Having a tough day? Avoid all responsibilities! Eat the unhealthy foods! It’s self-care! Buy our overprice products to help!” I no longer trust the easy designation of “self-care” to designate something as good or bad.

A fact of life is that just because something feels good to you, doesn’t mean it is good for you. I’ve seen enough people overindulge in things that feel good, but aren’t good for them, to know that there’s a difference.

When does hyper organization cross the line into ultimate unproductivity? I’m not sure I have an answer. Do you?

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