Yesterday I walked into my office and before I took the second step I wanted to turn and run the other way. Between visiting family, a friend in the hospital, divorce (yes it is finally, final) and trying to move this week, the paper has piled up (more than the normal piling) to astronomical proportions. Normally I have monthly Ocular Forum meetings in my office but the last two months things have been so hectic and cluttered ithere, I've changed the meeting venue from my office to the Cumberland Club, here in Portland. This clutter has now gone from an organization issue to a financial issue.
- Your desk is always a mess. How can this be, when you do most of your work on the computer? - Everybody's brain works differently. Some people need to physically write things down, touch paper and pen to think and work effectively. It think I had withdrawal symptoms the first time a 'real' owners manual didn't come with my Dell laptop in 2002. Going online to look at the PDF manual just didn't feel right. Now I'm used to it... sort of.
- What effect does a messy desk have? - Some of us are 'ok' with a messy desk. We know which pile to go to for things and the clutter doesn't slow us down. On the other hand, some of us aren't ok with it. If it makes you want to turn and run screaming from the office then it's a problem> You're probably procrastinating about decisions you should be making - if only you didn't have to face all the decisions you won't be making because of that damn mess you have to clean up.
- The idea of getting organized is overwhelming. How do you start? - The big messages here are:
- you can't try to unwind the mess during the regular workday; don't try.
- you shouldn't expect to completely clear your desk and be totally organized in one effort. It can take several hours outside of regular work schedule.
- When getting started, your initial goal should be to "clear your desk" not have a perfect system. Again, that will take some time. Start with a quick sort - 3 piles: Take action, File, Toss.
- Can a messy desk ever be a sign of deeper issues? - No, you probably don't need therapy or medication. But a cluttered desk can be a result of poor time management, persistent procrastination, or just that you have too much on your plate.