When he was with the Braves, Brian McCann got the nickname “Heap” because his locker was a mess, with everything in a pile at the bottom of his locker. I’ve always organized things like that: toss everything in a pile and look for it when I need it, confident that it’s in the pile somewhere.
When I was working, I would pile all the paper that I either generated myself or that other people left in my mailbox in a big pile. When I needed something, I went searching through the stack until I found it, then when I was done with it I’d put it back on top of the pile. When the stack got about a foot high, I’d take the bottom six inches off the stack and throw them away. If I hadn’t needed it by then, the chances were good I wouldn’t need it later. Someone I worked for once took exception to my organization technique, and forged a memo from the head of the department that said seeing my desk made him physically ill and left it in my mailbox. I was upset until I learned it was a joke. Then I was pissed. It wasn’t long before I cleaned my desk, on my way to a new job.
When I was in second grade, I was sent on an errand by the nun, and when I came back, I discovered that the principal of St. Ignatius School had taken everything out of my desk, straightened the books out and put them back in, and left all the papers in a heap on an empty desk. Evidently she had done this in front of everyone else, so everyone was staring at me, boys snickering, girls rolling their eyes, as I took all the paper and threw it in the wastebasket. That was what they did in those days, embarrass you in front of the whole class.
Did it embarrass me? Damn right it did.
Did it make me change? No. The only thing Reverend Mother did was to make me angry enough to hope that karma would bite her in the ass in the most painful and embarrassing way possible. She was gone the next year under suspicious circumstances. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
I’m an inveterate packrat. I always figure that, if I don’t need it now, I might need it later, and I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Fortunately, I now have electronic help: Evernote.
An elephant never forgets, and neither does Evernote…
When I get an important document through the US Mail that I know I’ll need later, I scan it into Evernote. When an important email comes in, I forward it to Evernote. When we get a new appliance, I find the manual online and save it in Evernote. When I pay a bill online, I forward the confirmation email to Evernote. If I see an article I might want to reference later, guess where it goes? The HTML code for all the badges and other tricks I use on the blog is on a single page, and I cut-and-paste the appropriate code into the editor. I write myself notes and keep them there. If I need something, I can do a text search, and no matter where it is in the note, be it in the title, in a tag, or on a graphic or in a PDF, it’ll find it. The paper goes right in the wastebasket (or better, in the shredder) and is no longer a problem.
I’ll bet the guy who invented Evernote was messy like me.