Awhile ago there was a thing going around in the world of writer-bloggers encouraging writers to take a picture of their workspace and show other writers where they work. At the time, you couldn’t have paid me enough to show you this simple little workspace in the corner of my bedroom:
…because it looked, well, like normal. Desk piled high with papers and books, stuff shoved onto the shelves any old whichway — the utter chaos, in other words, of a desk that is used not by a solitary writer but by a writer/teacher/mom AND her husband and very often her kids too (because we have the computer with internet access). When life gets busy it gets all too easy to just throw things on the desk or shove handfuls of mail onto a shelf. Well, obviously for some people it doesn’t; some people can manage keeping their workspaces organized, but I am not those people.
Oddly enough, my boss at work thinks I am, and in fact my desk at work IS always pretty neat and organized. I think it’s because it’s a space used only by me, only for work, instead of a multi-purpose space like my “home office.”
But I like to start a new school year with things tidy, so lately I have been in a flurry of cleaning the desk and organizing the shelves in the aforementioned home office, with the result that I now have a workspace I don’t mind showing people.
It’s still far from perfect. It doesn’t look like an office in a decorating magazine (Jason always looks at those pictures and says, “Notice how none of their computer devices have any wires at all?”); it clearly looks used and lived-in, but I have a workspace on top of the desk and I can see where things are on the shelves. I don’t do this often enough, but I really enjoy it when I do, and I love the results.
My problem is never getting organized; it’s staying organized. When I come home tired at the end of a busy day with three bills that came in the mail and a handful of notes from the kids’ school and something I have to look at for work and a book I pulled out to research for a project I’m writing — everything just gets thrown on the desk, till you can’t see the desk anymore.
I wish I had the magical secret to staying organized. Well, I do — we all do: whenever you use something, put it away right away, in the place where it belongs. If it doesn’t belong anyplace, throw it out. What I need is not the magical secret — it’s the motivation to actually follow those simple rules, not just in the tidy and organized first week of September, but in chaotic mid-October.
I’ve decided being publicly accountable might help. So, here is my pledge. If, by the end of October, I have NOT managed to keep this desk and these shelves as tidy as they are today (without another major overhaul), then I will post pictures of my desk, and the book shelf next to it:
and the shelf of office supplies above it:
as they actually look at the end of October.
I’m hoping the fear of having publicly promised to do that, will motivate me to keep things organized. Because I reallydo work better, think better and write better when everything is tidy and I know where things are. But we’ll see how that goes.