Part 2 – Decluttering the Surface
The background: My desk has historically been an impending avalanche. The problem is not only that there is stuff piled on stuff, but I don’t know what to do with the stuff once I want to put it away. Here’s last week’s post.
Since I embarked on Project: Desk a week ago I started noticing some things about myself. Which are not all that attractive. One thing is that I don’t have good follow-through on tasks. Or maybe more accurately, I follow-through, but not in chronological – or even logical — order. So I’ll start an email, then go make a cup of chai, then pick up the living room, and then go back to the email. My desk is in between the living room and the kitchen, so all kinds of things end up on it while I’m distracted by the next item on the to-do list.
This happens in the kitchen too. The other night, surrounded by salad greens on the floor and all over the counter, I pointed out my realization to my husband, Steve. “Why do you think I call you Edward Scissorhands?”
A change in my behavior that will lead to my redemption. The union of thought and action will help me overcome this chronic disorganization, which puts me in a bad mood and makes me too stressed out to go to yoga.
I learned two major things this week. The first – great advice came in from comments on the first blog entry — is about shredding and tossing things you don’t need. I had dinner with my friend Joanna, who is basically perfect. She’s a brown-eyed blonde beauty, a supersmart former corporate VP-turned-shrink. She has a rich spiritual life and laughs at my jokes and is probably one of the best advice-givers I know. But the annoying thing is that she is also very well organized. She told me, as she gripped a cilantro-ginger shrimp with her chopsticks, that she normally just puts each thing in its place when it comes through. She doesn’t even think about it. When she’s too busy, she has everything in a grocery bag that she can stash and then tackles it on Sunday.
The other thing I learned is that I don’t mind cleaning up as long as I have a little reward for myself. I only watch two TV shows, 30 Rock and The Office, which happily, are available online. So I’ve made a new rule: While I’m cleaning my desk off, I absolutely must also be watching something I enjoy. Or the other way around.
So today I’m sitting at my newly clean desk, with some tulips and a Valentine’s Day card in the feng shui relationship area. I have a lot more to do. Empty out drawers. Get rid of adaptors for long-gone electronics. Sort through a giant redwood tree’s worth of clean paper and envelopes. Figure out where to store the books I need to read and review for 40licious so they don’t get all mixed in with my Latin primer from college. Why am I keeping a Latin primer from college anyway? That is another story that involves books as a cultural shorthand to a person.
What I’m realizing is that I don’t have to do it all in one day. If I break Project: Desk up into phases and really think about what’s next and why, chances are I’ll make some changes that really work.
PS – In case you were wondering, frēti fidē tuā nōn timēbimus means “Relying on your trustworthiness, we shall not fear.”