If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then, is an empty desk? -- Albert Einstein
A clean desk is the sign of a cluttered drawer. –Unknown
Work spaces are such a personal thing. When I taught school, my desk was always cluttered, mostly with piles of paperwork. I finally taped a sign on my desk that said “Einstein's desk was always this messy.” And indeed, it was.
When I began to write, I found that my “genius” fled in a state of clutter.
I could sit in front of my computer to write, but found my mind cluttered and my concentration shot by the mess around me. Very little productivity came forth. So, I knew something had to change.
But frankly, you don’t take a woman whose only purchase of a decorative item beyond big ticket furniture is the sign pictured below and turn her into an organizational genius overnight. By the way, if any of you NEED a sign like this one, I found mine at a local Hallmark store.
I have compromised and now find that I work best if I can at least organize my own little space while I’m writing. Does it mean that I am now a total neatnik? Wait, I’ll stop laughing, pick myself up off the floor and continue this post in a minute after I consider that “neat” designation.
No, I’m not. But I have found ways to keep clutter or items on my “To Do List” from beating up my writing muse. Here, along with illustrations are my coping mechanisms.
1. I've limited my workspace. I used to write on this lovely, enormous antique writing desk. That's a picture of it to the left. It's missing it's drawers since I took this shot right before I sent it on consignment to a local antique store. Why? Because I soon I found that I had filled up the expanse of desktop with files and piles, virtually eliminating any space to work on. So, I got radical and bought this efficient little laptop table called "The Dave" at Ikea. Other than post-its with quick notes on it, I find it relatively impossible to clutter.
2. I designate my perimeter and, if all else fails, I pick up and move any clutter out of my work area. See? All neat and uncluttered.
2. Along with a laptop, I use an Alphasmart Neo. It is portable and I can write when I’m stuck in the dentist’s office or a carpool line. Oh, and I can also write by the pool when the muse strikes.
3. I go somewhere else and write. Usually I choose a local coffeehouse or my friendly, neighborhood library. This is a great workspace idea when there are other people in your home who will inevitably distract you. Let’s see. That would be my house. Almost always. But leave home and, except for the homeless lady who frequents the reference section, no one bothers me.
4. I hired Monica, the wonderful. Monica comes every two weeks and cleans my house for me. This has forced me into more and more organization. In fact, I’ve kept up with the house so well since hiring her, that Monica tells me she fears for her job. HA! Never fear, Monica. One of my few conditions in my upcoming house move is that Monica comes with me.
Yes, my home workspace is about to change. We are looking at moving within the next month. I have trolled the new house and can’t find my spot yet. I won’t have a whole room to myself, but like Carol Burnside said in her previous post, I will now have a blank slate. I am considering a computer desk with shelves for my reference books. If I go back to a "real" desk, I'm definiely heading to The Container Store since I can keep a desk neat if everything has a designated space.
I’m open to suggestions on how to set up a new spot. Clutter-free please.