by Trent Rentsch
True confession: organization has always been a bit of a mystery to me. For the majority of my life, I’ve believed in Santa Claus and a balanced Federal budget more; it’s truly the unicorn of skills for me.
I have made half-hearted stabs at hunting for the elusive beast. I’ve read at least the forward of several dozen books on the subject, owned (though never wrote in) several lovely, leather-bound planners... hell, every cell phone I’ve owned in the past 5 years has had at least 2 goal-setting apps installed on it (always the first victim to be sacrificed when space became an issue, but...). Still, despite all that effort (uhm...) I still seem to function… no, thrive on chaos.
I’m sure it’s been frustrating to the less organizationally-challenged people in my life. I DO have a system, even if others have to wait patiently for answers while I sift through a pile or two of paper, or search through emails I’ve saved (I hear that Gmail has dedicated several servers to me). Some try to be helpful, but honestly, after I hear the words, “Why don’t you just...” it’s all hums and whistles.
I suppose it used to bother me, but I’ve come to the point in life where I have to face the fact some things in my life will never change. Turmoil bordering on bedlam is simply a part of who I am; I can live with it. However, since I am concerned that it bothers others, possibly to the point of contemplating homicide, I’ve been doing a little reading about other organizational styles (yes, I’m convinced that not having a style IS a style), to learn how I might be less of a nuisance...
... and what I discovered was, I DO have a style, at least according to Sunny Schlenger and Roberta Roesch, who wrote the book How to be Organized in Spite of Yourself: Time and Space Management that Works with Your Personal Style. They contend that there are 5 distinct styles to organizing both time and physical space, and suggest that knowing the pros and cons of each style will help you understand what works for you, and more importantly, how to work with those with different styles.
With regards to time management, they suggest that we all fall somewhere in the following styles:
The Hopper quickly and frequently switches tasks throughout the day. Hoppers often enjoy variety and like to feel the gratification of completing small tasks, but they may be easily distracted by other people or technology.
The Perfectionist Plus seeks excellent performance in every activity, sets very high standards for herself and others, and may have difficulty distinguishing between valuable and less-valuable uses of her time.
Those Allergic to Detail enjoy thinking about the big picture and new ideas, sometimes neglecting smaller details or follow-through.
While Fence Sitter can see both sides of an issue and thoroughly researches upcoming decisions, both large and small, sometimes to the point of forestalling action.
Finally, the Cliff Hanger thrives on adrenaline, deadlines, and external pressure, but sometimes loses track of all the commitments he’s juggling.
When it comes to organizing physical space, Schlenger and Roesch describe these styles:
The Everything Out likes to have reminders, mementos, and project materials in plain sight and within easy reach.
The Nothing Out prefers to have surfaces cleared off and materials stored away.
The Right Angler enjoys having things look a certain way, with the appearance of precision.
The Pack Rat keeps almost everything.
The Total Slob believes that organizing things is a waste of time that could be spent on creative pursuits.
I found myself as a combination of several of these styles... did you? How about the people you work with? No, not the ones you lunch with every day, I’m talking about the ones you find yourself in conflict with, well, almost every day. I found that learning a little about these different styles not only validated my own sideways methods, but also parted the curtain, and gave me insight into how others operate. It may not have demystified organization for me, but at least I now know why some people always have mysteriously clean desks... and why it bothers them if my email responses aren’t timely.
As the media landscape continues to evolve in dog years, it’s important for every member of a radio station to work together, if the station is going to be successful. While everyone has their own part to play and does it marching to the beat of their own drum, it’s important to learn how to work together, despite the differences in style. For my money, as long as nobody touches those stacks of legal pads over there, I’m good.
Addendum: We announced the winner on the RAP website and on Facebook, but in case you didn’t get the memo, I’m happy to announce the winner of this year’s Love for an Audio Orphan contest, by a landslide, is… (drum roll, please): CHRIS WILLIAMS of WXLC-FM/WKRS-AM and his“psychological comedy” ad for Crazy Daisy Florist! Congratulations, Chris! For wowing the Ace panel of judges, you’ll receive a prize package, including a copy of Ozone 7 from our friends at iZotope!
For those of you keeping score, our 1st. Runner-up was Andrew Fraser, for his ingenious contest promo for “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and our 2nd. Runner-up was last year’s champion, Chadd Pierce, serving up the quirky “1 800 Swamp Flowers Dot Com Dot Slash Slash” commercial. Congrats to our top 3… and to all of the Magnificent 7 who played along this year!
Trent Creates words, voices, audio & music. His professional home is Krash Creative. Send time management tips to