I'm Not A Perfectionist ... I'm Just Detail Oriented

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate

What’s wrong with being organized?  I like being an organized person.  I’ve always been an organized person.  I function better as an organized person.  Last week, one of my childhood friends jokingly suggested that I am a "perfectionist" because of my affection for details and order.  We reminisced about our school days and laughed about the time I received a 98% on my math test -- then insisted on staying after class to find out why I got those 2 questions wrong.  My friend, on the other hand, was perfectly satisfied to accept her grade -- then hurry home in time to watch "The Brady Bunch."  As I stayed after class and scribbled down the pertinent details on my answer sheet, I comfortably felt more prepared for the final exam.  Fast forward a few decades and I'm still exactly the same person -- only with more wrinkles.

MessyDeskThis is what my friend's desk looks like -- and whenever I'm in her office, she claims that I appear to be hyperventilating.  Amazingly, my friend can move around mounds of stuff with the greatest of ease -- finding exactly what she is looking for in less than a minute.  And, while developing this method into an art form -- she remains efficient, productive, and actually seems to thrive on organized chaos.  Honestly, I wish I could be more like her.  Instead, we’re pretty much like Oscar Madison and Felix Unger from “The Odd Couple” -- except we don’t live together.

WomanFilingI file everything.  I file papers, I file emails, I file bookmarks, I file owner’s manuals ... everything!  The good news is that I usually have all the information I need right at my fingertips.  And, after seeing a recent blog by Bill & Liz Spear about the importance of keeping a “Home Diary”, I was thrilled to confirm the benefits of maintaining a good recordkeeping system.  Filing everything saves me time and aggravation, because there's nothing worse than combining a sense of urgency with "Help! Where Did I Put It?!?”

I memorialize everything.  I try to make notes on almost any business-related conversation.  Specifically, I will write down relevant details such as the person’s name, their phone number and extension, date, and brief summary about the conversation.  Because, if I'm attempting to resolve an issue and the voice on the other end asks “Who Did You Speak With?” – I hate when my answer is “I Don’t Know.”

I still use writing utensils to jot things down.  Pencils and pens ... remember those dinosaurs?  Most of the time, I use my smartphone or computer to keep “To Do” items and appointments neatly in one place.  However, sometimes it's just faster to write things down and then transfer the information later.  Also, I love to write lists!  I love to write lists so much -- that my lists have lists.  And, I find that if I don’t write something down, I will likely forget it.  There's just too much information to commit everything to memory -- and we all know what happens to our memories as we get older.  I once spent an entire afternoon looking for my reading glasses that were sitting on top of my head the whole time.  But, that's a different blog.

The only surprises I like are wrapped in pretty paper and tied up with a big, giant bow.  Otherwise, I don't care much for the unexpected.  And, although I know I cannot anticipate everything that might happen, I can do my best by staying prepared, planning ahead, and keeping information as documented and orderly as possible.  What methods/systems/tricks-of-the-trade do you use for getting and staying organized?  I would LOVE to hear about them!

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carie shapiro

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  1. Winston Heverly 04/15/2012 11:45 AM
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David Burrows
Classic Realty - Fairfax, VA
No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate

My wife is always reminding me of the need to reduce clutter in my life and business. I find that when I stall a bit, she is more apt to help me out and she is truly amazing when it comes to decluttering...

Feb 18, 2012 05:48 AM #1
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Carie, Thanks for the mention :)  Liz is the organizer, me despite being the engineer is more likely to rely on the gray matter and knowing what pile something is in on my cubicle desk when it comes to paper items.  Most of my organization is actually more towards electronic record keeping. I keep THOSE emails and records in a pretty good, retrievable system that lets me get what I need pretty quickly.  Bill

Feb 18, 2012 05:55 AM #2
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

I'm like you, but there is only so many things you can save, before you get overwhelmed by the next group of things to keep and file. There is almost not enough time to refer back to the things recently stored. So, you try to keep the things that make the most sense at that time.

Feb 18, 2012 06:07 AM #3
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I find that I still use the dinosaur equipment a lot and still prefer it.

Feb 18, 2012 06:13 AM #4
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

Carie~~ My husband is the little packrat of the two of us. He doesn't want to throw out anything. Of course he has no idea where anything is as he just expects me to know where it is. As of late, i have no clue where his things are. So, NO.. he is not organized, and wishes i was more so. I wish I was more so too. I guess old habits die hard. I am "organized" enough to be efficient and get the job done and then some. Some things are just not worth being so stressed. WE all have our comfort level though. Getting to know you more with each post here, I would have said that you would be that truly organized and efficient person! Great for sharing here!

Feb 18, 2012 06:17 AM #5
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

David:  I know what you mean.  And, with so much stuff to keep, it sometimes becomes organized clutter :)

Liz & Bill:  Everyone has their own system -- and that's why I'm always interested to hear about creative ways to stay organized.  Thanks :)

Winston:  You're right ... there always seems to be more and more things piling up all the time.  And, it does get overwhelming and then it's difficult to choose what to keep and what to throw out.

William:  I love my dinosaur equipment, too :)

Janis:  Thanks!  Although I am an organized person and I like to keep track of stuff, I'm actually somewhat of a minimalist.  I try to keep things that I need -- and then purge things I no longer need.  But, it never fails -- I will desperately need something approximately 5 minutes after I have thrown it out :)

Feb 18, 2012 07:16 AM #6
Marge Piwowarski
Phoenix AZ Horse Property - Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC


How did you get in here and photograph my desk?  Are my guard dogs getting too friendly again?  I sincerely hope you didn't shuffle my piles for fun, I know exactly where everything is and will file it when the deals are closed...

Feb 18, 2012 12:14 PM #7
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Marge:  Ha Ha!  Too funny :)  You sound a lot like my friend that I referred to in the post.  I am in awe of you for knowing how to find exactly what you need amidst the piles on your desk.  And, as I said, I wish I could be more like you because filing sure is time consuming :)

Feb 19, 2012 01:23 AM #8
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