I call it organised chaos like there is some sort of order to it all but really the organised part of the phrase is superfluous; it’s just chaos. I am referring to what I laughingly call my filing system. While those with good organisational skills may go through life with no greater risk from their filing systems than the possibility of a paper cut, I live under the constant threat of avalanches.
I am surrounded by perfectly good calendars, diaries and organisers, but when that phone rings and an appointment is arranged I bypass all of these useful aids and scribble down the date and time on a scrap of paper hastily torn from the bottom of a letter. This scrap is then placed in a prominent position on my desk, but by the end of the day it is lost, buried among the sheaves of other homeless documents that gather there. The scrap of paper is the most unreliable system of filing.
The opisthenar system is quite secure but not entirely reliable. The opisthenar is the area of the back of the hand that is favoured by those who need to jot down a quick note or phone number. The Jags championed this method of storing information in their 1979 hit Back of My Hand. The great advantage this system has over the scrap of paper is that the data always stays with the owner, although it is far from fail safe. The most common cause of data loss when using this system is a sudden bout of forgetfulness when washing the dishes. This can irretrievably wipe all of the data stored on the opisthenar, but there are products on the market that can protect against this sort of loss, such as the Marigold data protection system.
The sticky note is far and away the most popular method of storing those important dates in prominent places. Across the land the borders of monitors are adorned with so many of these yellow flags that they look like abstract rectangular daffodils.
But beware; budget sticky notes are a false economy as they are coated with weak adhesive and they often fall to the floor. By some mysterious chemical process, however, this adhesive takes on superglue qualities when it comes into contact with the soles of footwear. One Friday evening I was going on a first date with a rather pretty girl called Jane and I turned up at the bar as arranged, but with a bright yellow flag waving from the side of my foot. Jane had a giggle at this as she pointed it out to me and I let out a carefree laugh and removed the offending sticker from the sole of my shoe. I crumpled it up and dropped it into an empty ashtray on the bar, believing that to be the end of the matter. The pesky post-it had other ideas though and as I chatted with Jane the damn thing somehow uncrumpled itself like a flower blooming in time-lapse photography. It revealed its message for both of us to see, written bold in black felt pen. It read, Date, Jane – 8pm.