Are All Your Ducks in a Row or Does it Just Look That Way?

If I were to judge a book by its cover,  I would have to say that the “well-dressed” professional gives a distinctive impression of being profoundly organized. But I often wonder if that exterior appearance is merely a facade. Is it really who they are? I am unabashedly curious about their morning routine…

    • Did they struggle to find appropriate and clean clothes that morning?
    •  Did they just barely arrive on time for the business meeting because they didn’t manage their time well?
    • Did they race out of the house harried and stressed, leaving a trail of clutter behind?
    •  Is their car an extension of their untidy office, and is yesterday’s old coffee still in the cup holder?

The ironic truth is that even if the answer was YES to all of the above, at first glance no-one would ever really know. For starters, they look good and play the part well.  Let’s not underestimate the power of first impressions; they matter and are duly noted.  People often make judgemental assessments just based upon one’s outward appearance.  It is a reflection of one’s style, personality, and general attitude.  So if you are impeccably dressed to impress, you can expect to pick up significant brownie points before you even open your mouth.  Unfortunately, if all your ducks are not in a row, the ugly truth will eventually rear its ugly head.

Certainly, not everyone is inherently organized.  We all have individual core competencies and it just may not include an acute organizational skill set.  The executive function part of our brain is so individually unique and therefore the way we think about organization varies from person to person.

And so, it begs the question,  do you think you are asorganized as you could be? I am not suggesting that you should consider crossing every T and dotting every I, nor advocating taking an mandatory Organizing 101 course tomorrow.  But it is important to work with what you’ve got to the best of your abilities.

Here’s a general tip… neat and tidy does not necessarily mean organized.  There is a huge difference between aesthetic organization and functional organization. You can purchase beautiful decorative containers and still be searching for things.  Likewise, there are many successful executives who can operate very efficiently with piles of seemingly unruly papers, because they know exactly where to access each one.  This is what we can refer to as organizedchaos.  It’s more about creating systems and sometimes they can be somewhat unconventional. As long as you can access your things, clothes, and files, etc.  whenever you need them, consider yourself “organized enough.”  If it’s systematic and works for you, then it’s working!

But perhaps you love the idea of being organized and so you aim to portray that trait in the way you look. Check the mirror.  If your outward appearance is exuding a pleasing polished professional image,  chances are it just might be speaking subliminally about what you aspire to be. It undoubtedly reflects a measure of success and confidence. It makes you feel good, for sure.  You are sending out a strong message of balance and control. Whether strolling down the street or entering a room, you are commanding attention, well-knowing that others must be thinking you’ve got all your ducks in a row.

So pay attention to what that says about you.  If you can be fastidious about how you look on the outside and it’s working in your favor, perhaps you can transfer that behavior to other components of your life. Work on having your insides match your outsides.  Follow through with the same attention to detail and appearance with your home, office, and car. Don’t stop at the surface.  Dig deeper.  Align yourself inside.  When you feel more harmonized, you will be more synchronized.  Inside and out.

Don’t just look organized, be organized. Walk the walk and all the ducks will follow.