Book shelves and Organization

Book shelves
Originally uploaded by anselm23

The bookshelves are up in my house, and the office is more or less cleared for action (like the deck of a 19th century Age of Sail warship).

Two weeks ago (I think), Matt invited me over to his woodworking shop. He was disorganized and scattered and angry about something, and in no mood to do any woodworking, which is why I’d come. He was also clearly unable to use his space, which was a mess. Quietly, I began cleaning up, and he initially resisted. but gradually he began to relax and eventually went to work — which is what I had come to see, of course. By the end, he’d produced a couple of nice things, and his workshop was restored to a level of orderliness where he could work and make things again.

Matt is not exactly a gushy sort of person, or particularly enthusiastic. But it was clear that he was pleased and thankful that his working space was restored to order. When we built the loom this past weekend, Matt was already contemplating selling off his 37.5″ bandsaw, because it was getting in the way of the planned layout of his shop.

All of which reminded me that my own office at home has been in disorder since I moved in last August. So my friend Chris came over this past Saturday, and served me as I had served Matt. He asked questions, did a little bit of light cleaning, patiently helped me move things, waited while I got the emotional baggage about certain things out of my system, and generally helped me put in order what was out of order.

Chris then gently reminded me that my bookshelves were a disaster area. He also made five or six specific, concrete suggestions about how to fix them.

I told him, “After the school year ends.” So this is the challenge — by the end of July, I want to show my bookshelves off as being more orderly and more useful to me (and to visitors) than they are now. You my readers will help me keep that promise.

In the meantime, though, I’m amazed at how it took two creative, intelligent people to solve the problems of disorganization that one person was having. It required patience, time, and communication. Yet in both cases, the setting in order has spurred both Matt and me towards achieving greater organization.

How often do we disrupt this process by insisting that students work alone?

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