Friday, January 7, 2011

Saga of the Clean Desk Resolution er, Maybe

It's a new year: time to embrace new habits, turn over new leaves, determine to write without cliches--and vow to keep a clean desk. Out of all the new year's resolutions I make, keeping my desk clean on a daily basis is the most challenging.

But from what I've discovered via self-help blogs this morning, keeping this resolution will be a lot easier than I thought.

Tip #1: Organize the paper on your desk. Acquire an in-box, an incubate box, a tickler file, current projects rack, file cabinet, recycling bin, garbage bin and shredder. That sounds like an awful lot of things for me to keep track of. At my age I'm doing well to find my desk. My method of using post-it notes to keep track of my piles serves me pretty well, so I'm sticking with it.

Tip #2: Banish post-it notes because they're ugly. That's a rather subjective opinion, don't you think?  You might have ugly post-it notes, but I have pretty purple ones, butterfly shaped ones, some that look like apples, flowers and ice cream cones. Besides, if I don't leave notes pointing me to my glasses every morning I won't be able to see them anyway. And once I find my glasses, I need my post-its to remind me what my protag is doing next and that I have a doctor's appointment. Nope. The post-it notes stay. Otherwise I could end up being kidnapped by a biker gang and searching for my epiphany while my male protag ends up going to my gynecologist.

Tip #3: Trash those printouts. This is a great idea except that, I can't always find the document on my computer because I'm old school. Sure, it might look like the printer threw up on my desk, but I know exactly where I put that page of research I did on giant squids for my turn of the century naval adventure. I'm pretty sure it's filed under that cupcake post-it note attached to the ice cream post-it wait, that's a real cupcake...strawberry sprinkles! My favorite!

Tip #4: Keep blank file folders and a label marker near your desk. Like how near? And how do you expect me to add this to my current array of papers and post-its? Which box do these go in? The tickle one or the incubator one?

Tip #5: Throw away pens. Are you kidding me? I'm a writer. We can never find a pen when we need one.

Tip #6: Say no to schwag. You know, all that free stuff you get at conventions like pens, stickers, free magazines, brochures, bookmarks and books. Hello? I'm a self-employed writer. I need all the free junk I can get.(Especially pens.) I can always try to sell the other stuff if my contracts don't come through or burn it for fuel when they turn off the utilities.

Tip #7: Get rid of any books you don't use on a regular basis. Uhm, I'm in the book writing business, and while I might not read every book I own every single day, they are my friends, my buds, my posse. Who else is going to listen to my plotting strategies without talking back? I depend on them to surround me with literary affection and love. My books are staying thankyouverymuch.

Tip #8: Eat away from your desk. Like that's going to happen when often the only writing time in my day is carved out during lunch. Now where'd I see that cupcake?

Tip #9: Limit photo frames on your desk. Photo frames? I have photo frames? There might be some filed underneath that ebook on organization I printed out the other day.

Tip #10: To get started organizing your desk, take everything out of the drawers and pile it on top of your desk and sort. Hey! I've got the first part of this tip licked already! But I'm too tired to sort today. I'll start on that tomorrow.

I better leave myself a note.


  1. Cute! Now I'd better go clean my desk . . .

  2. "I could end up being kidnapped by a biker gang and searching for my epiphany while my male protag ends up going to my gynecologist." Question: Are you going to use this as a plot twist? ha-ha

    This somehow made me feel better. When I worked in the doctor's office I kept my desk immaculate. Now that I work from home my house is clean and my desk is a mess. I don't get it. Anyway, this is a goal for me this year, as it unsuccessfully was last year - to spend the last five minutes of my work day backing up files and straightening my desk. Maybe the problem is I'm always dipping in there for "just a few more minutes". Maybe what I need is to back up/straighten up each day at 10am. Oops! Missed it today. Maybe tomorrow.

  3. Hahha, Karla, this was great! SO described me and my desk! One nice thing about clutter (dare I call it that?) is that you never have to dust your desk. Nor the clutter itself if you keep shuffling it around. Forgotten cupcakes, though ... ew, watch out for mildew!

  4. Great post, Karla! It'll never happen here:)
    Especially the forgotten cupcakes. Not even a crumb escapes our mouths!