How to Clean Your Office

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 to me.  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.


11 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Office

  1. #1 is great for cyber bookmarks too! I have a “to read” folder that I declutter from time to time when the list gets too long.
    #2 Has changed for me with the internet searching facilities. I threw away a lot of 1993/5 fliers for historical homes in the UK.
    Working on #4, including study materials. I told my mom to not even open a bag of notes and throw them away. If she opened the bag she would keep some as “souvenirs”. Yes, it´s a family thing. 😉
    Something I found very useful is the “Don´t put it down, put it away” approach as I have the “flat surface syndrome” where I put things on the first available flat surface.

    • I started to laugh when I read #1. So I checked my “to read” folder–I have 456 items in it! And have never read it. That is SO funny! And true. We must be twins separated at birth. I save notes, too. [Rolls eyes]

  2. Oh, I have become a horrible ‘piler of things’ over the last year or so. I used to be horrified by stuff piled on counters or tables or floors, but it is creeping into my life. I still don’t like it, but it is there on a regular basis. I so long to be neat and tidy and organized again. Sigh.

  3. Can’t help it, the way you start off your post reminded me of this Dire Straits’ song, The Bug:

    Sometimes you’re the windshield,
    sometimes you’re the bug.
    Sometimes it all comes together, baby,
    sometimes you’re a fool in love.
    Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger,
    sometimes you’re the ball.
    Sometimes it all comes together, baby,
    sometimes you’re going to lose it all.

  4. Oh what a timely post. I struggle with my magpie nature. Its great wheb simeone mentions a poem and I can walk to my shelf, pull the book and have it. Or rhat quote, picture, organic cotton t shirt catalogue, birthday card, photo ….. The list is endless and consequently, I live in clutter. Important clutter. Clutter that has meaning. But I love staying away overnight in a room with out clutter. Except I pack my own to bring – books, magazines, oil pastels, paper…..

    Meanwhile, part of me yearns for SPACE and wonders why I never have any …..

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