It’s time to clean and organize my office, starting with my desk.
It’s been time to clean and organize my office for months, maybe years.
The mess here is beyond embarrassing. Like an endless blizzard, the piles of papers and notes have grown and spread from my desk to the chairs to the floor.
There are mountains of paper. Piles of magazines droop over stacks of books like weary lovers. Envelopes are enveloped with important notes scribbled in pencil or ballpoint pen. Reporter’s notebooks, full or empty, are crammed tightly in a gray plastic organizer, their coiled wire bindings as shiny as if they were new.
There are piles of legal pads and skyscrapers of telephone directories. Dictionaries and stylebooks stand behind a stuffed Rolodex. Everywhere are little post-it-note pads with notes scribbled on every page. There are scatters of business cards and pens and paper, paper, paper.
The desk is an avalanche waiting to happen.
I’ve been sorting through one pile of stuff at the end of the narrow blue table to the left of my desk for an hour and a half. And I am exhausted.
That one, unorganized stack has now become three. A stack of magazines and news tabloids that might be interested in my writing. A stack of Xeroxed articles and notes taken at a writers’ conference all related to developing an on-line presence and attracting on-line readers. And a stack of small, yellow, lined notepads filled with notes on interesting people (or groups) I’d like to write about if I can ever find the time.
I won’t describe the books and journals and magazines.
Why don’t I just brush this mess into a garbage bag and be done with it? Because (and this is either a gift or a curse) I’m interested in everything, every piece of paper, every note, every email address scribbled on an envelope or the back of a business card. Everything means something important to me.
That’s why I saved it all in the first place, stacking it here and there and re-stacking it every few months.
For example, here’s a list of books I made months ago…three books I’d like to buy and read: "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Dodge, "An Altar in the World (A geography of Faith)" by Barbara Brown and "Jesus, Jobs & Justice" by Dr. Thomas.
I haven’t read any of these books but they sound just as fascinating to me today as the day I scribbled down their titles. So, am I going to throw out this note? I don’t think so.
All this cleaning and organizing and I have a large wastebasket full of throwaway paper, and I can see a little bit of my desktop. But no one who entered my office would say it is neat or tidy.
My friend Julius La Rosa says cleaning his office means making new stacks.
Well, I’ve made three new stacks out of one old one. I guess that’s enough cleaning for one evening.