Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Paean to Tidiness by Sheila Claydon

I've been thinking about the heroines in my books and discovered a very surprising thing. All of them are tidy. They have the odd moment of single mum Kerry in Double Fault when she's trying to juggle childcare with setting up a new business, or Ellie in Cabin Fever when she's too busy thinking about charismatic Drew Pennington-Smith to bother to pick up her clothes, but despite these falls from grace, they are still tidy. Why? The answer is simple. Every one of my heroines is a strong, successful woman who is holding down a busy job while trying to cope with the messiness of her emotions. In Saving Katy Gray I even dedicate a whole chapter of the book to Katy's attempts to introduce some order into her elderly patient's life. Nor is it wasted when the hero visits.

So is life too short to peel a grape? Is a tidy house really a sign of a wasted life, or as the modern update says, the sign of a broken computer? Even Einstein got in on the act with his sarcastic - “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

There are many, many more and we've probably all heard most of them, laughed at them, identified with them, and even quoted some of them. Why? Because it's good to have an excuse when we're so pressured that we can't keep up with the demands of daily life. We all prefer to think of ourselves as interesting so if the accepted norm is that we can't be interesting and organised and tidy, then we'll celebrate messiness and chaos.

A great many of the people who are the successes of modern society don't buy this however. (Einstein excepted!)

Bill Gates, Richard Branson. Donald Trump, the late Steve Jobs, Angelina Jolie. Jerry Seinfield, Fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic and many, many others, all are or were notoriously tidy. To them, organisation, 'to do' lists, tidy desks are a means to an end. Without them they wouldn't have the time to be creative or, more importantly, put their creative ideas into action. 

Indeed, when I worked in the corporate world I learned very quickly that the most successful managers were, almost without exception, those with tidy desks and clean shoes! Think about it.  If someone has time to polish their shoes before work, then they are probably meticulous in every area of their lives...not a bad character trait if you want to succeed.

I prefer this quote:  'If you can organize your kitchen, you can organize your life.' Ditto your desk. That doesn't mean that you can't let things get untidy. Far from it. What it does mean though, is that you have to clean up afterwards, just like my heroines. 

If you've never faced pile of washing up from the night before at the start of a new day and not experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach then maybe you're the exception. As far as I'm concerned though, a new day is a day full of infinite possibilities, it's the day when I might just have the idea that will become a best seller, so if I have to start it by sorting out my messy from the day before, well that just ain't going to happen. I'll probably have lost the will to live before I'm halfway through. In future then I'm going to live by my new mantra:

Organize your life around your dreams - and watch them come true.

All Sheila's books and her organised and tidy heroines can be found on Amazon at

She's also on Facebook at or visit her website at