Sunday, June 6, 2010

I wish there were a better word for decluttering...

Was it only four months ago – not even four months ago – that I was revelling in the acres of space, the neat, tidy drawers and the endless possibilities conjured up by my new desk?

The same space now curtailed to a three-centimetre ‘free zone’ around my keyboard? The same drawers now devoid of pens, or even, worryingly, scalpels (note to self, would be good to know where the scalpels went)? The same desk now buried under a blanket of paper that’s as deep, soft and white as the driven snow?

The only thing in clear view is the Keep Calm and Carry On poster that hangs above my desk.

I have no-one to blame but myself. That’s the worst part. The pile of detritus cannot even be written off as children’s artworks to be recycled filed at the earliest convenience. No, this is notebooks full of, well, notes. Old To-Do Lists (depressingly undone), articles that I’ve printed to ‘read later’ (depressingly unread), the endless ‘guff’ that goes with the grant application process (there is no other word than ‘guff’, trust me – I tried), bills (depressingly unpaid), a birthday present (depressingly unsent) – you get the picture. Even if I had the cool Lizzie Allen wallpaper pictured above, you would not be able to see it.

The irony is that I marched into Mr6’s room today and demanded he clear his desk. “How can you possibly do anything when you have bits of Lego strewn from one end to the other?” I asked, in my most serious, this-is-a-life-lesson Mum voice. (Even as I said it, the full scale of my less-than-stellar example flashed across my mind.)

“But Mum,” he answered, quite reasonably. “Lego is what I do here.”

Oh yes.

The same cannot be said for me. Paper is not, technically, what I do here. I’m in a mess, and it’s cramping my style.

Which is why I plan to spend one precious child-free hour tomorrow, a Pre-School Day, cleaning up my office. It’s not strictly productive, and I aim to make my precious child-free hours productive (which is probably my first problem, but there’s a whole different story there), but I think it will end up being the best hour I spend all day. If only to give my thoughts and ideas some room to grow.

I just wish there were a better word than 'decluttering'. It sounds clunky and ugly, even if the results are smooth and beautiful. I might try 'unearthing' instead. That would fit.



  1. I need to "unearth" my bedroom closet and also the scary place by the back door where piles of shoes, coats, and bags go to die.

  2. My desk has kleenex, file folders, a coaster, some rocks (I use them to keep my laptop open; the cats close it),a pencil holder, pics of my cats and kids, a few note pads, a dictionary and thesaurus,a lamp, at least one cat when I am working, and usually an apple core or banana peel. Great working environment! molly

  3. Thoughts converging again!! It just seems to encroach doesn't it? It's definitely the paper that's the worst for me. I know I hang onto things as a sort of security blanket - and think 'oh I might get to write an article about that one day.' Or there's an idea for a story. I want to keep some of this stuff (a lot of it is probably online) but also have to be realistic. I am being ruthless today and throwing masses out!! Have been distracted reading an Australian homes magazine - Inside Out. I don't quite know why I've got that.

    You're right - it is about gaining a sense of perspective. I read that 'Your Blog is not Your job' post you tweeted the other day. I love blogging and the connections I'm making on twitter (how else would I get to chat to you?) but I will have to curtail. Or go on very late at night!! But I also think, conversely, we're quite restrained. Some people are surgically attached to it. Ho hum.

  4. "Lego is what I do here"... oh that's priceless! A-M xx

  5. We use the phrase "getting a bit zen" instead.

    Either way, a bing bag and some ruthless clearing out of crap is very theraputic......

  6. Ah, so I see there are plenty of people here who understand where I'm at. Yes it does seem to encroach, closing in from all sides.

    @MollyC Our desks are somewhat similar - except for the banana peel - I NEVER eat bananas.

    @deerbaby Inside Out is a great magazine and I can see why you were distracted...

    @Lucy I will try 'getting a bit zen' on for size and let you know how I get on. :-)

  7. It gave me great comfort to know that out there are other desks just like mine - piled high with stuff "undone". To do lists unchecked and reading unread. This week I too may "undo the undone that is my desk". Axx

  8. Wow, only you could turn "my desk is messy" into 350 words...and hold my attention.

    I started this process on Friday. I went and bought an expanding file & some plastic drawer things. They are currently sitting in the middle of the room, on the floor. To quote Lost "it only ends once, everything before that is progress".

    I'm making progress.

  9. It gave me great comfort to know that out there are desks like mine - covered with bills unpaid, reading unread, to do lists unchecked and generally things "undone".

    This week I will try to "undo the undone" which is my desk. xx

  10. If it comforts you. On my desk there is the laptop, sewing kit, one Christmas decoration that did not get packed away, painting drop sheet and other non-desk related things. And I only "unearthed" two weeks ago...

  11. I 'go a bit zen' (thanks Lucy) on a weeklyish basis so I can keep on top of things. This is because I realised long ago that I go mental when I'm surrounded by all the bits. It genuinely affects my state of mind. This is why I'm the I'm the best chuckerouterer I know. Go for it, Al.

  12. How is the desk 'organising' going? it was funny reading this at my desk- that has been in desperate need of attention for about 6 months, hiding away in its closed door stuffed full of 'don't know where to put it, here will do! i will deal with it later', but friday arvo enough was enough, dinner was late but my desk top appeared- pens in tins, rubbish away, bills filed. And now here i am at my desk reading your blog and smiling to my 'organised self'!!! and i bought a 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster after i saw it on your wall and plan to put it up in my renovated- when it happens- kitchen... i just have to remember where i have put it!

  13. I can currently touch several piles of paper, an uncharged camera, a stack of CDs, a game of connect 4, an empty milk jug that I keep pens in, a t-shirt and a Fisher Price dollhouse TV. All without even stretching.

    I'm going to take your blog post as a Sign to Clean My Desk.

  14. I don't have time to read this post. You had me at "acres of space, the neat, tidy drawers and the endless possibilities conjured up by my new desk?"
    *marches off to clean up own desk*

  15. You really need your MIL or similar relative to come stay with you. Best motivator there is. My study, for the most part, is quite organised since mine came to stay last week.

    Just, don't ask me in a week from now how it's going. MIL has left. Study is already accumulating puzzle pieces on the floor and loose pieces of paper with random notes written on them.


  16. Seven nailpolishes, two nail files, a couple of different phone books, nasal spray, husband's tape measure, many of my daughter's hair clips, two watches, sunglasses, golf accessories, lip balms {x2}, handcreams {x3} - much detritus - but very little that's relative to my work. Best be cleaning those off and stuffing them in the over-full bathroom cabinets.

  17. Good luck with the clean up. It is on my To Do List as well- soon I promise:)

  18. I like to call decluttering 'space blessing'. it's a bit hippy of me. But it must work. Because all I have on my desk is my mouse and my keyboard ;)

  19. My desk is a mess also... I have kids crap, my crap, work crap. There's probably even a gift from the dog hiding on here somewhere... everyone else uses is as a repository of all things unwanted, wanted, needed, lacking a home etc.

    BTW - de-cluttering your desk is productive, it's an essential part of having an organized work space which, in turn, assists in better work practices and higher production. Remember this excuse... it works for any procratination ;)

    Curiosity hit me - why do you NEVER eat bananas? Is this fruit discrimination? (I don't eat them either but you don't want to know why lol)

  20. LOL. None of us eats bananas. Not Sisters A, B or C, nor TICH. We did once. In childhood. But we're not sure if there was a traumatic experience or what, but we won't go near them now. Just don't tell my kids, to whom I happily feed bananas - given they are nutrition-packed, handily packaged lunchbox essentials.

  21. Clearing. Zen-ing. Redding (fine old Scottish word). Sorting - carries a hint of menace. Dispatching - foisting it elsewhere.
    And there is always mucking out, although for me, "Muck is what I do here...."

  22. I like 'streamlining' has this smooth and in control connotation. Or 'Editing'....


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