Disruption is all the rage these days — it keeps spinning through the technology and business orbits; now it’s infiltrating our politics.

For that matter, many in the field are encouraging every one of us to be a disruptor, that is to disrupt the status quo.

At the same time, the runaway success of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo points to a countertrend: order. Kondo, who runs a consulting business in Tokyo where she helps clients transform their cluttered homes into serene spaces, advises that we only keep things that spark “pure joy.”

In a way, it’s a radical approach when our lives feel so messy— inboxes are overflowing, we’re too busy to clean our homes, etc. Amid our clutter, Kondo says it’s vital to first commit to tidying up, then acknowledge belongings for their service and thank them before letting them go, if they no longer spark joy. Her philosophy clearly resonates with lots of people.


But Kondo is not the first to place a premium on the value of order.

It’s one of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues. Franklin defined order as the arrangement or sequence of objects or of events in time. At first, I wasn’t sure that this is a virtue that I live in my day-to-day life, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that order is central to how I live.

Thoughts cascaded as I did mundane chores — vacuuming the dust from the far-reaching corners of my bedroom, switching to my fall and winter wardrobe just before I felt a chill in the air. And then, I began to consider the many ways order governs my life: waking at the same time every day, writing in the a.m., running through my morning and evening routines, shopping and cooking on the weekends to prepare for the week, lining up an editorial calendar on a seasonal basis, attending church every week, carving out a regular time to chat with friends and family, the list goes on.
Maintaining order means consciously, and continually, making choices about what we want to keep and discard in our experience — whether it’s ideas, people, places, or things.


In other words, we must first order our innermost thoughts before we can order our outward environment.

At work, I am skilled in making order out of chaos, whether it’s screening communications, ascertaining people’s motives, finding patterns and the main idea in a sea of information, creating calendars, meeting regular deadlines. In my view, the ability to pursue and realize order is one of the most valuable skills for success in a VUCA world, marked by volatility, uncertainty, complication, and ambiguity. In fact, I see order as key to individual fulfillment and collective progress. Here I’m reminded of the words from an old hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier: “Let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.”

How do you create order in your life?


Ari Pinkus is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C. She has held roles at The Christian Science Monitor, ABC News, and Campaigns & Elections magazine. A perpetual learner, she’s always interested in developing and sharing ideas.