By Steve Moran

My life is messy. I am interested in too many things; I have too many new ideas. I lose things and forget things. If you are like this, you know what I am talking about.

If you are the opposite, I am endlessly jealous and fascinated by how you pull off this highly disciplined and organized life. I am often puzzled that so many of these people are my friends. This fascination means I spend a lot of time talking to them about their systems and processes that make them so organized, hoping it will rub off on me, which never seems to happen.

So, these conversations end up being exercises in self-flagellation, where after listening to what they do, I find myself feeling like my situation is hopeless.

Dennis McIntee

A few weeks ago my friend and drama-free teams guru Dennis McIntee invited me to do a guy’s weekend at his home in South Carolina. He is one of those orderly people who I hope will sprinkle some of his organizational pixie dust on me in a fashion that will stick. He has days, times, and systems that are amazing and effective for him … mostly.

The Light Went On

As we were comparing notes, I was astonished to realize that, in fact, sometimes his systems which I envy actually work against him — and that he has some envy of my one messy system. As it turns out, it actually works very effectively for me and my team.

Even cooler was the realization that he had some things to learn from me and how my organization works. In fact, it turns out that at least in some areas, my “more fluid” system (or lack thereof) works better than his highly organized system.

Just Different

It turns out that what I was jealous of is not really better, it is just different. I would never be able to function using his system. I would feel like a complete failure breaking my own rules. At the same time, if Dennis tried to operate in my system, such as it is, it would feel out of control and unmanageable both personally and professionally.

The big lesson is that we are different people, and different systems work better for us and our teams, but it would be hard to argue that one was better than the other.

The big takeaway is that you should be building a system that works for you and your organization, and that if it is not serving your mission, you keep tweaking until it does work for you.

Finally, at the end of the day, recognize that it is never done.