One of my friends and mentors, Ken Schmitz, once told me he doesn’t have OCD he has OCO (obsessive compulsive order).
I like that. It sounds much better. Nobody wants to have a “disorder.”
It never occurred to me that I had any OCD-like tendencies until I got engaged and someone else saw my private life.
“You organize your clothes based on date last worn?” Lacie asked me.
Yeah, it made sense to me because I didn’t want to wear the same thing in the same week. And a system like this made it so I wouldn’t have to think about it.
Sure, I wash my hands after it comes into contact with germs. That’s normal, right?
Apparently not. Because my wife thinks I’m weird when I grab a paper towel before I take the wrapped up diaper in her hand and throw it away (I just think: the paper towel provides a layer of protection, otherwise I would have to wash my hands).
Normal to me. Not to her. Whatever.
And I can’t stand icons on my desktop and I don’t allow myself to have more than 3 screens on my phone. Therefore, I’m constantly removing apps I no longer use so I can make room for the new ones I want.
When I play chess it drives me crazy if all the pieces aren’t facing forward or even worse, if one of them is sitting partly outside the square.
And don’t get me started on “orphan words” in headlines (where one word is left all alone on the 2nd line… I just feel bad for those poor lonely orphan words).
But I’ve never felt like any of this has gotten in the way of my life.
However, there is an area where I noticed my “OCO” has caused problems: my notebooks.
Ever since I quit cocaine in 2004 I’ve kept a journal. For years it was more of a diary. But as I started reading and growing as a person, I used the notebooks to “figure” things out more.
It’s become part of my life. But over the last couple years I’ve struggled with figuring out if I should use ONE notebook or MULTIPLE notebooks. This has actually stressed me out and I’ve spent hours researching the pros and cons of both.
I’ve also experimented with different methods. For example, right now, I have:
- A Blue notebook for “God” stuff (what I hear God saying to me when I mediate or pray).
- A Black notebook that’s more of a traditional journal.
- A Grey notebook that’s for business and work stuff.
Oh and then I have three digital notebooks in Evernote:
- journal – god
- journal – work
Yes. It’s complicated.
And the more I talk about this the more I realize I have a problem!
The reason I want to have separate notebooks is because I want to organize the information for when I review it later. I imagine myself 10 years from now with shelves of notebooks and I wonder, “Would I rather have shelves of notebooks arranged by topics or just have all the different topics spread throughout all the notebooks?”
If you think I’m overthinking this then you’re right. I know I am. But the problem is I feel like I can’t help it!
So I have to make a decision. Otherwise my mind won’t let this go. I’ll grapple with it for days to come. So I’m deciding to be a wild man and downsize to ONE notebook to rule them all! (I know, it’s crazy, right?!).
When the OCD side of me starts to freak out I simply remind myself that I can use an index system to record the different entries. And if I really want to I could eventually scan the notebooks into Evernote and organize it that way.
But I’m tired of overcomplicating things. I’m tired of carrying around 2–3 notebooks in my backpack. I’m tired of wasting time deciding which thought belongs in which notebook.
So anyway, I just wanted to share this crazy struggle with you, mainly as a form of accountability. I figure if I publish this online and at least one other person reads it then I’ll be less likely to try and “figure this out” again. I want to commit to ONE notebook for at least 6 months and see how that works. If I don’t like it I can go back to multiple ones.