“Your time is much like your money: if you want to be generous with it, you must get organized. Take a given week for example. If you neglect to plan how you will use your time each day, you will most likely waste a lot of precious minutes (which add up to hours and days and years) that you will not be able to spend serving others. You will also be unable to determine how much time you can spend on a particular project or with a person to whom are ministering.”
Some people may think it weird or merely the sign of an obsessive personality, but I get butterflies when I walk into an Office Depot. Even the thought of notebooks, filing cabinets, planners, and binders gets me excited. Oh for more sticky notes and file-folders with reinforced tabs! And, for those who think I am stuck in a bygone era of space-devouring paper goods: yes, I love Evernote and Pocket and Dropbox. I’ve even been known to block out serious chunks of time (like, on the calendar) to organize my MacBook’s files and de-clutter the desktop.
I have a passion for organization.
But not everyone shares my enthusiasm for drawer dividers and label makers. Through conversation and general observation over the years it has become clear that there are people who find an overly-organized work environment stifling when it comes to their creativity and productivity. Others have concluded that setting aside time to index their notes, catalog their books, assemble all their files according to appropriate categories, and establish a system of “productivity processes” actually takes away from time in which they can be creative and productive.
While I do not want to quarrel with those whose personality seems to require a certain amount of, shall we say, workspace flexibility, I do want to challenge the assumption that careful attention to organization kills creativity and productivity.
In fact, I would contend that organization is an indispensable key to both.
Ministry and Organization
When it comes to ministry, then, Christians should give some serious thought to organization. If we are called to be fruitful and rich and good works—a calling that involves both creativity and productivity—then we should gladly embrace any means that enable us abound in these things.
Take, for example, a well-organized desk. The effort it takes to plan and maintain and orderly desk may be significant, but the payoff far outweighs the time and energy required to set up your workspace and routinely return everything to its place. More to the point: an organized desk enables you to do a greater amount good for others than you could do with a disorderly desk. In his discussion of promoting effective productivity practices, Matt Perman makes this important link between organization and fruitfulness.
First, good productivity practices reduce the friction in doing good, thus making doing good easier and more likely. For example, I have a series on my blog about how to set up your desk. I think it’s pretty fun to have your desk set up well. But what’s the ultimate reason a good desk set up matters to me? Because setting up your desk effectively helps you be more effective in serving others. It means that instead of having your stuff all over, getting in your way and creating friction in your life, you can operate in a smooth and efficient way to focus on what you really need to get done” (Matt Perman, What’s Best Next, 87).
So, the cultivation of effective organizational habits is not merely for your own convenience; it is for the good of others. When we, as Perman observes, “remove the friction in doing good” by maintaining an orderly workspace, we are freed to serve others more effectively.
But it doesn’t stop at your desk.