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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Organized Chaos by Annette Dashofy

I really need to clean my desk.

I’ve been asking my readers on Facebook to help me come up with a blog topic for today. No, cleaning my desk wasn’t one of them. I’ve made a list of the suggestions, all of which are great. But one was a topic I’ve already used recently. Several others will make excellent topics closer to the release of my next book, which isn’t until May. I can’t address current events for two reasons. One, we’re all sick of hearing about politics and COVID. And two, between the time I write this and the time you’re reading it, everything could change. Let’s face it, in the past couple of weeks, “current events” mean “in the last ten minutes.”

So I’m sitting here, staring into space, which as most writers know is legitimate work. We’re pleading with the muses to honor us with an idea. Any idea. Please!

Which is when my glassy-eyed gaze settled on my desk. Good lord. How did this mess happen?

 


I intended to clear it over the holidays. I need to file important papers. Create a folder to organize my workshop handouts. Compile notes from online seminars and classes. Seriously, I have about ten notebooks and legal pads piled around my office, all with half a dozen pages of notes on various topics from marketing to law enforcement to edits for my works in progress. If I need to print something out, I have to move an unstable mountain of paperwork from the top of the printer.

 


Let’s not forget last year’s receipts, all gathered for filling out tax forms. To be honest, that stuff is the only organized pile in the room, because nothing terrifies me more than the IRS.

I would list what’s on my desk, but I don’t have enough space in this blog for it all. And if you think I’m going to show you a complete “before” picture, nope. Not happening. If I’m successful between the “now” of me writing this and the “now” of you reading it, I will post an “after” picture though. (Edit: I was and I am!) 


Is your desk neat and organized? Or do you work in the midst of chaos? Or somewhere in between? What’s on your desk?

 

 

18 comments:

Jim Jackson said...

I have two suggestions. One involves a drawer in which to place the stuff that’s on your desk. Out of sight is out of mind, at least when it comes to distracting us. Try it; it works.

The second suggestion relates to tax receipts: Rather than save all the receipts, scan them into pdf files. Keep the files in a folder on your computer (and backup regularly to the cloud and a hard drive) and throw out the paper. I use Quicken to record my expenses so at the end of the year, taxes take very little time.

Annette said...

Haha, Jim! I have drawers, but they're already full! One of these days, I need to purge them, and then maybe I can follow your advice.

I use Quicken but not to its full capacity, I suspect. It definitely helps. There's a reason I became a writer instead of an accountant.

Kait said...

Looking good, Annette!

I took photos of my desk for a Facebook post years ago. The most frequent comment concerned how clean the desktop was. Believe me, Annette, that was only because I’d swept all my “stuff” to the floor, and photoshopped the floor portion from the photo. I used to have two magnets that I have lost over the years. One read: A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. The second: Creative minds are seldom tidy. That's my story. I'm sticking to it :)

KM Rockwood said...

I do try to keep the "organized" part of "organized chaos." With varying amounts of success.

Once in a while I have to actually look for something in the piles instead of going directly to whatever it is I'm looking for. Maybe twice a year. Then I know I need to take a bit of time and shift through everything.

One trick I use dates from my days teaching in a large urban school district that liked to play "gotcha!" with its teachers ("I know we sent you a memo".) I have a big box, and when I don't think I'm going to need a memo or something again, but there's a nagging doubt in my mind, I dump it in the box. That way it's not interfering with the "organized" stuff on my desk and drawers (and any available flat surface) but I know I can retrieve it if I ever need to. I've only had to do it twice over the years, but both times it was a lifesaver.

Now I actually keep two boxes, switching every six months, and when I start a new one, I toll the contents of the oldest, which by that time is a year old.

Annette said...

Kait, I like those magnet messages!

KM, I'm taking notes.

I do think I'm getting better about organization and filing, but every so often I start a pile, thinking I'll get to it tomorrow. The next thing I know, the piles have multiplied and the clutter has overrun me yet again.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Kathleen, I just switched from shopping bags to boxes, one for every six months. Works like a charm, and I'm getting organized for a shredding event next weekend.

I work at the kitchen table, and keep my current stuff in a dog-proof plastic file box in a bookcase.

Annette said...

Margaret, I love those plastic file boxes!

KM Rockwood said...

To add to the sayings on the magnets:

If an organized desk is a sign of an organized mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?

Debra H. Goldstein said...

I don't use any of the tricks.... What fits in drawers fits in drawers, what piles next to the desk, piles next to the desk.... and eventually, a trash bag handles most everything. I do keep an annex in my bedroom closet -- 1/2 clothing; 1/2 books, tax and receipt materials, and 1/2 misc....notice the math? I think of the two areas as controlled chaos.

Annette said...

Debra, I like your math!

Anonymous said...

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk represent? <3
I once took stacks of papers off my school desk, preparing for a sub. The box of "Important" papers sat until the end of the term, at which point I dumped the bulk of them into the recycling bin.
I would sometimes put a note on the papers-to-be-graded on my kitchen table asking my cleaner to just overlook the table that visit. It is time to clear some of the paper from my home . . . if there only were not so many good books to read instead. <3

Mary Garrett said...

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk represent? <3
I once took stacks of papers off my school desk, preparing for a sub. The box of "Important" papers sat until the end of the term, at which point I dumped the bulk of them into the recycling bin.
I would sometimes put a note on the papers-to-be-graded on my kitchen table asking my cleaner to just overlook the table that visit. It is time to clear some of the paper from my home . . . if there only were not so many good books to read instead. <3

Annette said...

That really is the thing with "important papers, isn't it, Mary? What seems important today is simply trash a few months from now.

My biggest organizational task (once I finish my tax prep) will be my writing workshops. I have most of the material on the computer, but every time I teach a class, I'm the one who learns something new, so I have notes about updates scrawled on leftover handouts. I definitely need to get those sorted and edited.

Paula Gail Benson said...

I like Debra’s math, too. Congratulations, Annette. Your desk looks beautiful!

Shari Randall said...

Congratulations on that clean desk, Annette!
I have a desk but I follow the sun through my house during the day and work at the dining room table or the stand up desk in the family room in the morning, and then blissful afternoons in the sun on the office/guest room bed. That's where I am now, looking at the desk, which is covered with Christmas stuff I'm going to put away. Some day...

Annette said...

Thanks, Paula and Shari. And Shari, I'm jealous of your sunshine. We're mired in mid-winter drab gray here.

Susan said...

I haven’t decided why I went from a totally organized teacher to a totally messy writer. Maybe I need to sit and think about a better writer organization. You are inspiring me, Annette.

Annette said...

Good luck, Susan!