Clean Your Desk (Studio, Table) Successfully

Image from, an organization site.

Some days you are the pigeon. Some days you are the statue. And some days you have to clean your desk, table, studio space. You just have to. Either that or plow it under and call one of those reality shows where Donald Trump shows up with 50 cat carriers and has a desperate housewife fire you and send you to rehab. I’m sorry, I don’t watch TV, so it all sounds alike. Back to cleaning.

Here are some tough love tips for cleaning that worked for me today.

1. Don’t look back. I tried being serious about saving all those articles I’ll read someday. Then I realized that if I really had wanted to read them, I would have. In the time that I’ve collected the articles, I’ve read four books. So I’m not really motivated to read the articles. Toss them.

This is a perfectionism stumble. “If I were a really good X, I would read, file, remember, sketch, write, use this article, image, scrap of ephemera.” Deep breath. It’s a perfectionist thing. Toss it.

Yes, you will probably need it within 10 minutes of the trash truck vanishing down the street with it. Toss it anyway.

2. You won’t buy it anyway. Catalogs marked with turned-down page corners for storage, filing, clothing items. Largely waiting for a windfall. When windfall comes, will need something else. Toss catalogs.

3. Compare and act. Two of the items I wanted in the winter catalog are now on half-price sale. Pick up phone and order. Done. Move on.

4. Even if you teach, throw it out. I have a huge stack of magazines, catalogs, flyers that are “perfect” for that collage class that I’m not teaching this month. Or next. More stuff will accumulate. Toss it out.

5. Start where you are. Don’t try to catch up. More paper is mistakenly saved because you are scared to throw it out, for fear of forgetting, falling behind or forgetting. Unless it bank or tax stuff, make NOW your starting point. Easier and saves the nerves.

Quinn McDonald wishes she would clean up more often. The desk has a nice wood grain she rarely sees.

12 thoughts on “Clean Your Desk (Studio, Table) Successfully

  1. After living in a rental for the last 2 months with minimal space for clutter to collect, I have switched teams. (Hoarders vs. Tossers)

    I used to think a “neat” pile or two of clutter, spread decoratively around the house, was okay. I NEEDED all that stuff, ya know? But living with clean surfaces, and only one box for papers and books, I’ve discovered it’s so much easier. And I find that if I keep my pile to just one container, I actually go through it before trash day. Only so much space…

  2. Haha, I am going to get to this today! I know I need to toss all this stuff and I love how the house looks all clean… well, it was clean when we moved in 14 years ago… until I started emptying boxes! Now I have filled closets and cabinets AND boxes and boxes and boxes from all those visits from the Queen and my need to do a “panic cleaning” of the palace! (funny, I just realized that T’s brother-in-law calls our house the palace!) But I’m the Queen of Clutter!!

  3. I think there was a couch, and I distinctly remember a pretty nice desk. Wait, I know — I keep ALL my receipts; they’re somewhere in that pile over there, eleventh from where the door…er…was…(OK, I’m SURE there was a door)

  4. You’re suggesting that there are pieces of furniture underneath all my…you know, I think I do vaguely remember something about that. Hmmm…well I’ll have to check; this is a really interesting idea!

  5. I clean in cycles. I work and the mess compounds. I push on until I cannot take the chaos for one more minute and then I clean as if I’m expecting a visit from the queen.
    Getting rid of stuff is a hard one. I attach emotional meaning to things that don’t deserve my energy. You’re totally right about “tossing it anyway!”
    Best wishes from messy germany, tj

    • I do the same thing. I keep it all, until the piles threaten to bury a cat. Or collapse. Only then do i dig in and throw out. I love my piles, I know where everything is. But at some point, order must prevail.

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