If you’ve gotten this far in this book, you have learned many ideas and skills that will enable you organize anything.  These skills apply to organizing tangible things like clothes and books,  to organizing living things like plants, animals, and people, and to digital things like the documents on your computer and web pages.   These skills even apply to organizing your time.

In this final part of the book, you’ll learn some additional skills that will take you even further along the path to becoming a master organizer.   Here is what you will learn in these final chapters:


  • How the three questions you answer to organize any collection of resources — WHAT, WHY, and HOW — are interconnected.  This means that how you answer any one of them affects the answers to the other ones.   This results in tradeoffs that change the costs and benefits for different users of the organizing system.


  • How the question “Have you ever seen Santa?” illustrates the important decision you make to think of something as a specific or unique thing, or as one of many interchangeable things in a broader category.   You make this decision all the time without thinking much about it.  Do you say “I am in the school band” or “I am the first trombone in the school band?”


  • Why the SCOPE of an organizing system,  the number of different types of resources it contains,  is more important than the SCOPE, the total number of resources being organized.  You can make a hard organizing problem easier if you change the answer to the “Santa” question and treat many slightly different things as equivalent. This makes the SCOPE of the collection smaller.  Do you treat all of your socks as interchangeable and just toss all of them in your sock drawer, or you you carefully sort them by color or purpose?


  • How the Santa question about how broad a category is sometimes answered “by nature.”  For some types of things it just seems more natural to choose one category size over another.  That’s why you say “I am taking the dog for a walk” and not “I am taking the animal for a walk” even though a dog is an animal.


  • How this idea of natural categories can be applied to the organization of places.   You will see this in maps, where some borders between states or countries are naturally created by rivers, lakes, or mountains.    But at other times place borders are distorted from these natural boundaries.


  • How our visual system automatically organizes what we see to make things simpler.   Our mind has a bias that makes us see organized patterns.  This makes it easier for us to move around and interact with things, but it also enables camouflage and illusions.



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"The Discipline of Organizing" for Kids Copyright © 2022 by Robert J Glushko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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