When it comes to organizing, categories are king. Categories are a fundamental organizing building block. They suggest what things go together. Categories make it possible to organize and store things for easy access and retrieval. An article about arthritis might go in a file called Health but a document about bird-feeders doesn’t. Most of us don’t store our belts with our cereal: unless you’re a category-bender. “Watching the birds at the bird feeder is relaxing. It makes my arthritis less painful”, says my client Roberta. So we file the article about bird-feeders under Health. Category-benders think about “big picture” and they see many connections between items that I would never think of. I tend to think of my stuff in a more micro way. It makes it easier for me to categorize it.
I was reminded of category-bending when my great niece (grand niece?) got a wrong answer on an elementary school quiz called “What Does Not Belong?” There was a picture of a shoe, a dog, a cat, and a bird. She circled the bird. When asked to explain, she said, “Well, my dog grabbed Mom’s shoe and ran around the house with it. Mom got mad and ran after the dog. She stepped on the cat’s tail. The cat ran under the couch. We don’t have a bird.” So there you go. Roberta belts are coiled in plastic bags next to the cereal in the pantry. “Weight loss”, she says. “I’m supposed to the eat fiber cereal everyday. The belt/cereal combination works for me.” So there you go.