Sunday, 30 April 2017


Struggling to come up with accurate English equivalents of family of words related to the concept of ogarniać, a Polish verb describing getting around something, keeping grip of things, being well-organised or well-versed in something. Whatever the most suitable translation is, my impatience with people who do not exhibit the set of qualities which have the common denominator of ogarnięcie is rising.

The confession is inspired by a recent moving. As part of relocations within the office building, my team had to move to an area on a lower floor which involved packing all the stuff into cardboard boxes last Friday (and subsequent unpacking due on Tuesday). Everyone who changed dwellings at least once in a lifetime knows moving belongs to rather stressful processes and it takes some effort and a lot of composure to bring it over smoothly. Usually moving is more traumatic and tiresome if you possess lots of clutter – the more you accumulate and the less you dispose of, the bigger load you have to carry with you.

I managed to pack all my stuff (a pair of shoes, two bottles of wine, a briefcase, some documents, some stationery, etc.) into one cardboard box and was assigned to pack stuff of my female colleague (one year younger than me) currently in the middle of two-week holidays. Instructed by my team leader, I threw away several binders of her papers that had been scanned and kept in electronic directories (the New Factory has gone digital some time ago, meaning use (also printing) of storage of paper has been whittled down to a bare minimum), but had to pack all her personal belongings which all fit into nine (yes, nine) cardboard boxes (after disposing of lots of clutter). Everyone around was so dazed at the sight of me filling yet another box in a row that they even put up with and laughed every time I shouted out a bunch of expletives.

I actually like my colleague, though she is kind of nieogarnięta, sluggish, disorganised, lacks dynamics a young person should beam with (before you ask, yes, she is married, has no children).

I am the only male in the team and I do feel like a misfit, not just on account of being the only one of the opposite sex or having no-one to engage in locker-room conversations with. We differ in every aspect of style of work. When I turn up to the office I can start working effectively within one minute from reaching my desk. I simply unlock my computer and open the mailbox and while going through e-mail that arrived overnight, I change my shoes and unpack my stuff (wallet, phones, packed lunch) to a desk. For them, it usually takes around 15 minutes before they reach their working capacity, which involves combing hair, changing not only shoes but also socks or stockings, yawning, choosing which tea to drink, chatting, complaining, etc.

The lethargic mode means a worker falls behind with her (not their, I observe men tend to be better-organised and more efficient at work) assignments and then hurries and stays overtime to meet deadlines. If you work overtime, the reason might be that you have too much on your plate, but this can also indicate work is badly organised by managers or that you fail to organise your assignments. I have noticed as long as external factors do not turn my work upside down, even if I am burdened with plenty of urgent tasks, I usually can handle them with eight working hours, just because I plan my work ahead with the horizon of up to three months and do lots of things in advance, circumstances permit. Needless to say, though this is appreciated by managers, I pay the price of being allocated with more stuff, because I am most likely to complete them duly and timely.

While having exorbitant expectations towards myself in terms of ogarnięcie, my tolerance for people who:
- fall back on their promises,
- fail to meet deadlines,
- deliver work of poor quality,
- are indecisive,
- do not control things happening around them,
- are poor in planning,
- fool about well ahead of deadline and then rush to make it in time,
is on constant decline.

The same, horrifyingly, applies to daily life. I have been sick of my listening to my currently-holidaying workmate wondering one day before setting off to a trip around south-eastern Europe whether the third-party liability car insurance is valid outside EU and whether to take her husband’s car for inspection before starting a five-thousand-kilometre trip. Another co-worker was moaning on Friday since she had decided to have her car checked in a garage on the day of leaving for the long weekend, some defect was found and did not know what to do.

An ogarnięty individual has their car inspected some two or three weeks before a longer trip, since in case mechanics detect something which needs to be fixed there is headroom for ordering a spare part and booking a repair slot in a garage…

I could carry on with several such examples, but I see little point in flogging a dead horse. Life is too short to do things slowly, to get stuck in analysis to reach paralysis, to dither ten times before taking a decision. I am growing fond if idea of lean life. There are people who are older than me and today live in one country, while in a month they might move into another country. Their all belongings could fit into a few suitcases, they do not own a flat nor a car, because both assets are burdens. Compare them to owners of terraced houses in the suburbs – contents of their garages would not fit into suitcases of their peers who have not settled down yet.

I have learnt to think twice before buying something which I would use once or twice and now I try to borrow it or have it shared. Actually if you rent a well-equipped flat, you do not need to possess other stuff than a portable computer, clothes, footwear, cosmetics, documents and a mobile phone. Thanks to technological progress documents books and photos can be stored in an electronic form and the only concern is to have them properly stored and backed up. This also mean you do not get attached to stuff such as mugs, cutlery, etc. To live like this you need to learn to treat objects which facilitate your life instrumentally and decrease your expectations towards them. If you use an iron, a washing machine, a TV, a shared car, this will not be the one with all functions you would choose but in turn one which is not a burden for you.

The first step towards lean life? Rationalise the content of your dwelling, basement, attic, garage and find out which stuff you can get rid of! Analyse how much clutter you store in case they come in handy. Most people, as long as they do not move frequently, tend to accumulate things they bought on the spur of the moment, made use of them a few times and then put them away for a future use. Some of them have made a step forward and put up some of their stuff on Allegro or OLX, alternatively, they exchange stuff with similar folks who also do not need various stuff. But the step towards a deeper changes must be taken at the stage of buying and thinking twice whether an item would indeed be used repeatedly; the step which people who take pleasure in shopping might find difficult.

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