“Messy” Isn’t Always Chaotic

She's NEAT logoIn all aspects of life, words and our interpretation of them create a foundation and a system by which we relate to the world.

The work of She’s NEAT is no exception.

Words such as “organized,” “neat,” “messy,” “tidy,” and “disorder” come not only with an emotional charge, but with judgments attached to them as well. It has becoming clear that, not unlike having to describe and then defend working with the Tarot, some of the concepts behind the personal organization work need clarification.

This notion was embodied during a visit with friends yesterday when the conversation rolled around to, ” So how’s She’s NEAT going?”  I caught a furtive glance pass from the wife to the husband as I talked about the joys of de-cluttering; obviously there was a difference of opinion about what constitutes “clutter” and what is considered the normal price of daily activity.

A few minutes later the conversation moved along to another of my favorite things, the opening of yard sale season. (You may be familiar with last season’s Yard Sale Documentation Project.)She's NEAT messy desk

I got spouting about certain things I was NOT going to pay retail price for, since I can get them much cheaper at a yard sale, one such item being a headset for my outdated-but-still-very-much-in-use cordless phone. I saw the wheels moving in the husband’s mind as he rose from his seat and headed into his office. Two minutes later he emerged with an equally-outdated headset.


Yes, someone might consider his office to be messy, but he knew just where to find the thing he was looking for. This man is the owner/creator of an organized mess; this is something with which no personal organizer can or should find fault.

“Messy” is only a problem if it hinders progress, if it makes it difficult to get things done, if it is stress-producing or anxiety-ridden. Clearly that was not the case here, and I’m pretty sure something personal for this guy was vindicated by our little transaction

By the same token: a “neat” space is not necessarily “organized.” I can think of a few kitchens I’ve been in where the counters are bare and no clutter can be seen, but don’t dare open a drawer or cupboard for fear of what chaos might be living within, awaiting any opportunity to leap from an available opening.

You know who you are.

Tarotworks http://www.tarotworks.com blogIt’s not a personal organizer’s job to opine about the state of affairs in another person’s home or office, but to get that space to its place of maximum potential and benefit. Don’t let the words you’ve assigned to those spaces prevent you from living your best life in them: be honest about what’s going on there, and if you need help, ask for it.

And if you don’t need help, it’s OK to feel good about that too.


Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com

 Jeanne Fiorini is owner/creator of She’s NEAT personal organizational services, based in Portland Maine.



  1. March 5, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    This is very true! How things appear are not always (or even commonly) how they actually are. This applies to neatness or messiness as well. I know I have at times lived in what I called “organized chaos” where things appeared to be hectic but really I knew just where to find everything.

  2. kellypurinton said,

    March 5, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    You know who you are…great line 🙂 thanks –

    On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 7:55 AM, jeannefiorini

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