A Place for Everything

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 20:18:26 GMT

I can count on my fingers the number of people I've met who faithfully live by Benjamin Franklin's principle: "A place for everything and everything in its place".

It's amazing how important predictability and organization are to various success metrics. Context switching is already incredible expensive and cache misses are very disruptive.

When I'm in a flow state and I surpass my expected allotted time for a lookup -- e.g. where is my can opener -- my Jenga tower of focus topples. Same is true for conversations and code. Losing a good train of thought or scrambling because a code definition changed.

Tooling can help augment the problem. Especially for digital material, evergreen bidirectional links (which don't go stale), labels, sym(bolic)-links, and search/filters can bridge the divide -- letting us be as messy as we need to be while minimizing the consequences.

In people's day-to-day physical lives, some privileged and conscientious people hire secretaries/executive assistants, cleaners, and the like to put things in their place because they recognize the value.

In people's day-to-day physical lives, some privileged and conscientious people hire secretaries/executive assistants, cleaners, and the like to put things in their place because they recognize the value.

There's a tough trade-off between getting things done (near-term optimization) and long-term prosperity & survivability. Shareholders and markets seems to prioritize the former. Many smart orgs (like Walmart & Amazon) structure their models around the latter.

And I think in the world of this latter, there's tremendous value in the mantra: "A place for everything and everything in its place" Especially when "winning" means managing inventory (digital or otherwise). Food for raw thought.

Counterpoint: There's also the famous quip by Albert Einstein, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" I wouldn't suggest structure at expense of progress. Only perhaps we underestimate the value of organization as bedrock of enabling creativity.

Tags: filters, Benjamin Franklin, bidirectional links, Context switching, Albert Einstein, labels, Walmart, A place for everything and everything in its place, cache misses, Amazon, search, flow state, Jenga, If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?, executive assistants