Neatness Counts
  • Arranging documents and other communications in an easy-to-follow, useful manner
  • Identifying and properly labeling data, information sources and assumptions
  • Organizing work in a methodical and tidy fashion, free from irregularity


Clutter frustrates me. It keeps me from doing my work well. I have more trouble completing tasks when things are cluttered and it leads me to waste time that I could invest elsewhere.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. Let’s assume that it is your responsibility to provide your boss with an accurate list of the 18 Funds For Learning® GuideMarks.

All of the information that you need is included in the table, but you may have noticed that the “list” is a bit unconventional. It contains 400 letters arranged in a 20-by-20 grid. Each of the 18 GuideMarks is, indeed, provided in the table; unfortunately, the words are all strewn about in different directions and co-mingled with a bunch of other letters. Finding the 18 GuideMarks will take some work.

Fortunately for you, there is also a neatly organized table of the GuideMarks that will make it much easier for you to complete your imaginary assignment

Whether or not you take the time to complete this exercise, I think you will agree with the following observations:

  • It takes a lot longer to identify the GuideMarks in the first table than it does the second table.
  • There is no need for the GuideMarks to be hidden in the first table. (The point of the exercise is not to develop “word search” skills. It’s to come up with a list of the 18 Funds For Learning® GuideMarks.)
  • The second table is much more useful because the information is presented in an orderly fashion without the clutter caused by a bunch of other letters.
  • It is harder to find the GuideMarks in the first table “word search” if you don’t know the words for which you are searching.

Although our day-to-day responsibilities may look different than this exercise, the same principles apply. Neatness counts. Clutter and disarray makes tasks harder, costs us time, and lowers the quality of our work. When we take the time to arrange our work neatly, it makes things better.

P.S. You are welcome to use the second table to complete the GuideMarks word search. Enjoy!

Additional reading: 10 Tips to Beat Clutter…in Less Than 5 Minutes


Key Words and Phrases

Precise; Tidy; Methodical; Fastidious; Free from irregularity; Systematic; Arranged orderly; Admirable.

Opposite Terms

Disorganized; Sloppy; Messy; Disheveled.


GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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