Junkyard of Organization

A Junkyard of Organization

In college I was given a “hand-me-down” car. My parents had a Chevy Nova that they provided me, so I had a car to drive to school and my job. I was so appreciative. However, it was an older vehicle that was beginning to have some issues. One of the main challenges was the back axle was slipping and the tire would slide off center, making for a rough ride.  

Lucky for me, a good friend of mine liked to work on cars. Arthur Annas (who is still there to this day) looked and identified that I needed a new leaf spring. I had no idea what that was and how to repair it, thankfully Arthur agreed to help. When pricing out new leaf springs, I found that it was going to be expensive. Going to school meant I did not have a lot of cash on hand.  Never fear. Arthur had a solution; he would take me to the junk yard and find it there.

As the sun set on a Friday evening, we arrived at what is best described as an auto graveyard. Unlike human cemeteries with headstones set systematically with neatly manicured grounds, a traditional junkyard is filled with cars dumped in any nook and cranny on the property. The autos are in a varied state of deterioration and disassembly. We were there to see if we could find a used leaf spring from a “dead” car.

Arthur confidently strolled up to the office (really a run-down trailer) and asked the owner if he had any leaf springs available for a 1976 Nova. I was thinking, “Surely this must be some kind of joke.” This place looked like a bomb had gone off in it, metal was everywhere, and Arthur is asking for a specific part for a specific vehicle in what looked like a field of unorganized rusted and mutilated metal.

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The look on my face must have given my feelings away, because the owner, not looking at Arthur, but giving me a hard stare said, “Go down the second aisle, about halfway down, you’ll see a couple of old Buick’s, one blue and one black. Behind that I’ve got one. It’s a ’75, but the spring is the same as the ’76 model. If you can get it off yourself, give me $40 on the way out.” Turning to Arthur, I got another hard stare from him that said I better keep my mouth shut.

Sure enough, the car was right where the owner said it would be. After a lot of human elbow grease and some swearing, we were able to remove the part. On the way out, I paid the owner who gladly took my money with a huge “I told you so” grin on his face.

Neatness and organization are not the same

As I learned then and continue to be mindful with my clients today, organization is not necessarily about neatness. Just because things are set up tidy and arranged does not mean the person knows where everything is located. If you can live with piles of paper with multiple post-it notes yet are still able to find what you need quickly, then you have established a sense of organization that works for you.

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If the world around you is like a junkyard, and it causes you stress and anxiety – then you have an organization problem. The “chaos” must be addressed in a way that your environment is both orderly and you can find what you need quickly.  That is the approach of time-optimized organization.  You can find out about the details in my book The Time-Optimized Life.

It is said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The same can apply to organization, it is also in the eye of the beholder. You can work in an environment that is like a junkyard, or you can work in a location that is like an operating room. Your challenge is to be able to get at what you need quickly. If you can’t, then you need to start making some changes.

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David Buck is the author of the book “The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at dave@kmstime.com or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.