Trying out a new workspace clearing idea

bronwynsmomJuly 30, 2008

This morning, as I reread the thread on office purging, I was struck by how all of us say we can get it there, but we can't keep it there. Me, too.

So I am thinking about taking a fresh look at the process, since I have a nice chunk of time today to spend on the two desk areas in my house.

What do you say?

My inspiration is Julie Morgenstern ("Organizing from the Inside Out"), who says that we make a mess because our systems don't work, and we don't trust them.

So I have taken a legal pad and pen, and I am walking around these areas really looking at everything. I'm making a little list of what I see in each place...the bookcase by the back window, the pedestal table, the writing desk, the filing basket...that kind of thing. Then I'm noting what it is, what kind of thing it is (office supply, book, pile of things to read, pile of who knows what, reference material, electronic thing, etc.), and do I have to schlepp it somewhere to use it...

Then my idea is to look at the list with an analytic eye so that my sorting and pitching will make more sense. The first important question that has occurred to me so far is, okay, why did I put that there, and what did I think that would accomplish. My hope is to discover the "cognitive errors" in my habits as an organic way to begin changing them.

Does this sound like a useful start to you?

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Absolutely. :-)

Whenever I decide to organize (or re-organize) something, I try to look at my personal sub-concious habits first. I would love, love, love to be that person who takes the mail back to the office every day when I come in. The fact of the matter is, I'm not that person. The first thing I do when I come in is let the dogs out, which takes me right by the kitchen counter. Where does that leave the mail? On the kitchen counter.

So that's where I set up my "mail center". Not in the office, which is off my beaten path, but on the kitchen counter, where I can leave the pile while I take care of the dogs' needs, and then while they're eating, I can stand there and go through it, sorting it into a bill-organizer, to-file box, recycling bin, and garbage (all right there within easy reach, incidentally).

So once I get my office "purged", I'm going to look at how I use the space *sub-consciously*, what do I naturally do with things in there, and then organize the space around my own natural inclinations, rather than trying to force myself to change habits to fit what my "idea" of an office should be. I generally have more luck with that in the long run.

So while you are analyzing your "stuff", think about your normal movements through the space as well. You might be surprised at what you realize you do without really thinking about it, and how you can work *with* yourself rather than against yourself to make things work better.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:51AM
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I think it is a wonderful idea! Right now sitting at the computer I see my comfortable chair piled with my purse, a shirt I take for outtings (cool movies and such) a box of electonics, books and magazines and coupons...some clothes as well. Truth is...I do have a place for most of it, but it is stuff I want to grab quickly and not have to look for.
This idea has worked well for me with my shoes that were under my desk...I got a metal basket and mostly keep them in there. It is so much neater.
Actually when I think about it now...the comfortable chair for not really good for reading...the light is poor there. The space would really be better for a storage area like I use it for.
I will take out Julie Morgenstern's book and go over it again...probably not before this week-end as I am busy getting ready for my guest in 2 other appointments like dentist, lunch w friend and babysitting.
Excellent idea though...I will be sure be thinking about it and hoping to come to a solution that is right for me.
Thank you bmom and jamie...I know with some thought we can all make this thing work!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:02AM
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I have already realized one of my underlying errors...I often think I am in a hurry, when in fact I am not. I absorbed this from my darling mother, who often mistakes speed for efficiency.
I zip on to the next thing without handling the first all the way through, and leave a messy trail behind me.
So if I go back to the source, I can use a device Mother learned in cardiac rehab several years ago..."Stop, breathe, and think."

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:08AM
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Stop, breathe and think. Sounds great.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:32AM
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