The fact that the phrase "neat freak" even exists highlights that getting organised is not something everyone readily embraces. But you know what? That doesn't mean that it's automatically terrible behaviour deserving of condemnation.
Picture by William Hook
Writer Oliver Burkeman sums up this reality very neatly in a recent column for the Guardian:
It's important to distinguish neat-freakery from obsessive-compulsive disorder: what makes OCD a disorder is that the sufferer doesn't enjoy their rituals, that they get in the way. True, pleasure-in-neatness can also be taken too far, bordering at its extremes on something more sinister. Somehow, it's unsurprising to learn that Melvil Dewey, the library categoriser who changed his name from "Melville" because the excess letters bothered him, was also racist: he loved orderly dividing lines of the bigoted variety, too. We more moderate neatniks, psychologists suggest, are driven by a desire to assuage anxiety and feel in control, but so what? The fact that a behaviour has a hidden cause doesn't automatically mean it's bad.
At Lifehacker, organisation is obviously a big deal; we have a whole category for it. However, we've always tempered that enthusiasm with a clear recognition that being organised is a useful tool in achieving a goal, not an end in itself. If having a better organised desk makes you more productive, it's worth pursuing. If you enjoy the process, so much the better. But if you have a happy life and can do everything you want while keeping stuff stacked on your desk with no method whatsoever, that's fine too. You don't need me freaking out about your utensils drawer — but I don't need you freaking out about mine