continental shifts and other oddities

Today we officially celebrate National Clean Off Your Desk Day. To honor this day, I will now give you a virtual tour of precisely what is on my desk at the moment. Or at least, some of it. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm the server.

–A basket from when my daughters were flower girls filled with miscellaneous knick knacks which have to be put back on top of the computer but haven’t been since the Christmas decorations came off of it.

–Four ballet shoes, two of which need their elastic sewn in (by me, of course).

–An in box overflowing with, besides my normal work: #2 daughter’s vacation wish list itinerary (which she really wants in my in box); last year’s date book which I have to file away to prove I actually do work in the case of a tax audit, but I haven’t yet filed it and don’t know where to; Battle of the Books notes which have to be typed but have been sitting there since the season ended two months ago; #2 daughter’s archeology text (the class is over); two CDs I don’t recognize as belonging to me; and three Agnes cartoons I love and want to scan for posterity.

–A postage scale from when stamps were still 32 cents.

–A coaster with a picture of Sacre Coeur on it. Makes me really want to go back there.

–The Best Baby Name Book. No, I do not need this. But children like to use it to name their Sims characters.

–Three of my kids’ old school notebooks which they do not deign to reuse the following year, so I use them, feeling guilty otherwise. It does look a trifle, unprofessional, when I show up to meetings with a prismatic pink notebook that says “Beth’s 6th Grade Journal” on the cover. But at least I’m doing my part to reduce, reuse, or recycle.

–A glitter globe Winnie the Pooh pen. (This is really not mine. I swear.)

–My palm pilot, which hasn’t worked in months because I can’t find the charger cord.

–Two of the very best things created ever for holding your paper while you type, which I can no longer find in the Levenger catalog.

–A cat, who insists that directly in front of the computer screen is the best seat in the house.

Now, I am not the world’s foremost authority on clean desks. I was the only child, to my knowledge, forced to stay after in elementary school to clean out my desk. I’m not talking once or twice. Regularly. So the fact that my first child’s fourth grade teacher just rolled her eyes when I sat down at the overstuffed desk for parent-teacher day should not have come as a surprise. Nor that end of the year locker clean out usually requires two dumpsters and a hazmat team. Nevertheless, I’m here to report that miracles do happen, and I can no longer work at a desk that looks like one of those fifth grade movies about shifting plates and continental tectonics.

Of course, when I write, I don’t usually sit at a desk at all but prefer the recliner and a lap desk. Here, there is nothing I can do about the three cats that litter this makeshift desk, swat pens, and sit on notebooks with total reckless abandon as to their current state of use.

Then there is the new kitten, who strongly believes the computer cursor is alive and trying to communicate with her. She sits, in front of me, attempting to bring that baby down with a few paw swipes. She has no concern at all that I can’t see what I’m typing. If this gets printed some day and reads nfejrwhtpwerotjveritie, rather than the stellar prose you’re used to, you know whom to blame.

In the interest of the day, here are some truly helpful ideas for keeping a clean desk:

–Get a pretty in box you will actually like having on your computer. You’ll be less inclined to fill it so it can’t be seen, and you’ll associate looking at it with happy thoughts.

–Schedule filing time at least once a week.

–Don’t allow all the kitschy knick knacks and freebies you’ve acquired to clutter. Do you love looking at it? If not, toss it.

–Keep a datebook in your inbox to write down dates to remember, phone numbers, websites, etc.

–Sort and completely deal with or recycle everything as it comes in.

–Just say no to a computer filled with sticky notes. Yeah, easy to say. My kids love these things.

–Keep a reading folder handy and schedule time once a week to read through all those things you put in it for “someday.”

And, after looking at several websites for tips on a clean desk, I have linked the best one I found. Many others are out there, but they all tend to say the same thing and work best for those who are already organized-type folks. This one is simple, which is the point. I have read his book, and though some of it made me say, “huh?” I did find some useful ideas I have put into practice for simplifying daily to-do life.

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