Monday, March 23, 2015

De-Cluttering for Your Desk and Your Mind

By Rose Strong

Maybe I was pushing spring, since we’ve had more than our fair share of snow and freezing rain here in the Northeast; the days of walking on ice in my backyard with my over-the-boot ice cleats are getting old. I’m done with winter. So, in an effort to force some movement to a more gentle time of year, I did some early spring cleaning a few weeks ago, starting with my office desk drawers.

Straightening up my desk drawers is one of the last chores I have time for during my workday, but the contents therein are essential to much of my work. Making time to go through and clean out the nonessential debris that seems to overtake these little, slide-out boxes that reside on either side of me would be beneficial to not only my daily tasks, but to my state of mind.

Last year, I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project.” We all want to be happy, right? For the most part, I thought the book was full of great ideas, stellar research and mostly simple solutions to some long-standing problems common to us all. One of her theories is how clutter can be a significant inhibitor of a peaceful and productive life. This article from Lifehacker.com reveals the scientific proof and as one who tends to pile “stuff” on nearly every flat surface or keep needless ”stuff” on a shelf, in a closet or in a drawer, I can attest to that.

Although I can be lazy when it comes to making serious changes to my life, Rubin’s “Ten Tips to Beat Clutter,” from her blog are really terrific, and I especially like her one-minute rule, which I find pretty amazing when I stick with it. It’s a very simple action philosophy that rewards big.

Let’s get back to my desk drawers and their interesting contents. Since I’m the office administrator, much of my desk items are things all the office staff uses, like a box of refill staples, envelopes, priority mail and certified letter supplies, a label-maker and refill tape, postage stamps, Band-Aids, packing tape, the storage room key, and desk and file cabinet keys. Anyone may access these items, so it’s pretty essential that they are easily available.

My right-hand drawer is home to my favorite local Chinese menu, various business cards, a Mason jar with ketchup packets, a bottle of White-Out, Chapstick, a nail file, a Starbucks splash stick, a bottle of Ibuprofen, paper clips, a magnifying glass and some sticky notes, binder clips, a ruler, and a lint roller. Although people may need items from that drawer, it is relatively private. I use these things pretty regularly, but I tend to toss stuff into the drawer, making it a disarray of nearly unidentifiable objects.

After cleaning out the drawers and trashing items that I couldn’t recycle or use, it inspired me to declutter my desk as well. Now, I’m amazed at how clear my mind feels and the effect has even given me considerable motivation to work on those tasks I procrastinate most.

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times by Pamela Druckerman gives insight into why clutter is suddenly a first-world problem and how both clutter and the lack of it can affect our minds.

How about you? Are you the clutter type or a neatnik? What do you do to keep your mind and your surroundings clear and organized?

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