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Culture & Religion

A Philosopher’s Approach to Getting Organized

Some people require a guiding light to help urge them toward tidying their personal space. One ancient philosopher in particular would suggest letting context and pragmatics serve as that light.  

Eric Barker, purveyor of the Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog, does a terrific job writing insightful pieces that examine mundane topics through a scientific lens. Recently, for example, he tackled the topic of disorganization, an issue, he explains, that causes a whole lot of problems for a whole lot of people. Clutter, he writes, will often lead to wasted time and wasted money. And as we’ve explored here, messy spaces tend to sap productivity and the ability to persevere through difficult tasks.


Ever-creative (perhaps he writes at a cluttered desk), Barker proposes a philosophical approach to tidying up by evoking the questioning attitudes of Marcus Aurelius:

What is this, fundamentally? What is its nature and substance, its reason for being?”

If you’ve got a messy space that needs organizing, Barker suggests thinking about what purpose the space serves for you personally:

“The reason you’re so disorganized is because most of us don’t answer this question specifically. And I mean specific to you

Why does this matter? Your theme becomes the filter by which you determine what belongs and what doesn’t. What takes priority. What should be placed next to what. Because now everything has to serve a purpose.

This is why most organization methods never stick: They’re arbitrary. And underneath it all, you know that. So you fall into the same old bad habits of throwing things here or there.”

This is a pragmatic approach to organization that stresses the importance of context. If you can understand that your home office needs to serve you and your specific needs, it’ll be easier to adopt a plan for maintaining it in the necessary fashion. As Barker urges, don’t allow the organization of your space to become arbitrary in your mind because your needs are anything but arbitrary. Everyone has their ideal image for what a space needs to look and feel like. You should strive for it.

Barker’s piece expands much farther than this mini foray into odd applications of ancient philosophy, so if you’re really in need for some tips on how to tidy up, I suggest clicking through via the link below.

Read more at Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

Below, psychologist Sam Gosling explains that how you arrange your personal spaces will reveal a lot about who you are.

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Photo credits: Anticiclo / Shutterstock & GoodMood Photo / Shutterstock


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