I’m a huge one for organisation, particularly when it comes to filing. I like my in-tray to be empty, and my inbox on the computer to be empty. Of course, this is not always possible, but I like to only have items in my intray/box that I need to process in some way – otherwise it belongs in another folder. People actually seem cleanly divided in this at work; they either have less than a dozen e-mails in their inbox, or several hundreds or even thousands.

My filing strategy is really so I can quickly find things, for example all the e-mails about conferences go straight into a e-mail folder called “conferences”, where I can refer back to them if need be. My physical filing system is the same – each bit of paper gets put into an appropriate file. This is actually quite a tricky process, as it’s fairly rare for a piece of paper or an e-mail to fall squarely into an existing category – for instance do my payslips go into my “Work” folder, or into my “2005/6 tax stuff” folder?

What started off this line of thought was that I also file away all the personal e-mails I receive according to how I know the sender – so I folders for “Family”, “Norfolk”, “Imperial”, “Leeds”, “School”, etc… These are a bit fuzzy, as several people who go into school I didn’t know from school, but rather met while I was at school, or through school friends. ANYWAY, the point is I made a friend while I was working at HTB – fine, all e-mails go into the HTB folder. Trouble is, I lost touch with her about 5 years ago, but now it turns out that she’s a really good friend of someone who I met at Trinity Bristol when I went down for an interview. E-mails from him are easy; straight into “Bristol” folder; but what about from her? Is she still an “HTB” contact, or is she now a “Bristol” contact?

Actually, it’s the same problem as on my PDA, where each contact is stored in a category (same as my e-mail categories).

The upshot of this – apart from to hugely embarrass myself by admitting such nerdiness – is that life is inherently messy. We like to categorize things, and put them in their little boxes, but life insists on throwing a swerve ball. It was one of things that came out of my selection panel: I like a neat and elegant solution, but that’s not also possible… or even desirable. The Cross is neither neat nor elegant, after all. And God cannot be put in a box.