I love oxymorons, as they are a great way of providing a meeting ground for two diametrically antithetical concepts. There is no better way of getting two divergent ideas together; some of the oxymorons that would best describe our daily life would be minor crisis, working holiday or only choice. But according to me, organized mess is the best oxymoron that a working mother can rely on to (nearly!!) achieve the much sought after excellence in every sphere. It is that state of equilibrium that may not leave you elated but you are definitely not disappointed.
It is that time of the year when every one is making resolutions. I am sure many of us would have resolved to be more disciplined and systematic. An inseparable part of being disciplined is keeping things in their place neatly so that they can be easily located when you need them. This is easier said than done, especially because once you are juggling between a career and motherhood, life can be pretty uncharitable. The challenge is more severe if you are the kind who is not willing to compromise on either front. It is then that my mantra of organized mess can be the saviour in being somewhat disciplined in arranging things that you need regularly.
The basic tenet of organized mess is creating small hubs/spaces for different categories of objects and then, dumping them there. Let me elaborate. If you are a working mother who is fond of wearing sarees to work, you would immediately understand what I mean. I am talking about opening the cupboard on a Monday morning, staring at the flooded racks and exclaiming, ‘I have nothing to wear‘!! There are two reasons for this kind of a feeling. One is because a woman always feels ‘the more the merrier’. The other (real!!) reason is that the wardrobe is so badly organized that it is almost a mangled heap. Indian wear has so many accessories that finding all of them is quite a tough ask in the morning, when you are already racing against time. This is where the principle of organized mess comes handy. Even if you neatly organize your cupboard periodically, it is bound to become a pig sty sooner than later. I say this by experience. Therefore, the thing to do is to keep (a euphemism for dump!) different accessories in different heaps/bags/racks so that the search gets localized and targeted. The entire cupboard does not need to be rummaged. The search operation can be limited to a single heap or bag.
I employ the organized mess policy for all those things that we keep searching for on a daily basis – footwear, keys, warranty cards, stationery, medicines, medical reports, important documents and cosmetics. I have found it pretty effective. There are some who (irritatingly!!) know the exact coordinates of each object in their homes. On the other hand, there are those who are completely clueless about the location of all objects.
I am somewhere in between. I roughly know where to look for but then that area will have to be rummaged to find the specific thing that is being sought. I believe that this is the golden mean because perfection is best left to god. Having said that, complete disorder in organizing your belongings is akin to committing hara-kiri.
Let me also add here something which is a little digressive but relevant. When we were in kindergarten, we were taught :
Make new friends but keep the old one is silver the other gold
We tend to extend the idea of attachment that is the keynote of the rhyme above even in respect of our acquisitions. Thus, even as we buy new things, we cling on to the old ones and do not dispose them off. This is what adds to the clutter. Therefore, even if there is a fleeting moment where the sentiment of detachment surfaces, the same should not be allowed to pass. Instead, all the clutter should be done away with so that there is less mess to organize.
So, the next time you feel too lazy to arrange your clothes in the wardrobe but the perfectionist in you does not let you rest in peace, do try the mantra of organized mess. This is the middle path which will leave you with a little more time to do things that you are really passionate about, without feeling guilty about the mess you are living in.