When You Wish You Had a Cat to Clear Your Desk…

Anyone who’s ever had cats knows their penchant for knocking off any surface the breakable knickknacks, critical paperwork and whatever else happens to be in the way.

Years ago, I read in some article on “tips for being organized at work” that the first thing one should do is clear every item off your desk, and then file, toss or otherwise organize each one. Not a bad tip.

I’ve always prided myself on being highly organized, but with the caveat that I have a bad habit of taking on too many projects, which sometimes wreaks havoc with my organizational skills. An ever present fantasy is that if I could just find the “perfect” organizational system – one that would work seamlessly and flawlessly – I could do more than run two businesses, volunteer and have a life.

Yup… it’s a fantasy.

Anyway, life events of the past few months have sort of gotten in my way. A trip to Los Angeles to visit my daughter and her family, who shortly after sold their condo and moved home to Maine (which allows me to babysit my totally adorable two-year old grandson all day every Friday), a bout of pneumonia and a couple of colds piggy-backed onto that pneumonia, a very ill dog (who is now in perfect health), and a second dog with on-going back problems… well, you get the picture.

My system had deteriorated into stacks and piles. In the morning I would waste time searching for the materials needed at the various clients’ offices I would visit that day; each morning I swore that when I got home, I’d put all of my binders and notebooks and loose papers away so that it wouldn’t happen again. Not ever again, darn it!

But it did. And I was more than a little annoyed with myself.

So at 4:30 this morning, without that helpful feline available, I yanked (almost) everything off my desk, and with the aid of an industrial shredder, a large garbage bag, extra binders and a super dooper 3-hole punch, etc, I went to work.

Very early iterations of now completed spreadsheets went through the shredder. Loose copies of MaineCare regulations were punched and inserted into labeled binders. Issues of hard-copy magazines (AARP, Consumer Reports, and so forth) were added to the bathroom reading pile to be scanned and recycled.

Six hours later, I’m done. And I feel great, in kind of a beat my chest and howl sort way. Of course, I did lose 4 hours of work with my clients but that sense of being overwhelmed by paper has greatly alleviated. Happy dance!

Being organized takes work and focus. I have other tips that will be shared one day but for now, it’s time to move on.

If you have a method that works for you – or perhaps you need help in managing all of your stacks and piles – let me know. I’d love to report on any new ideas, and of course, part of this business (Heritage Health Services) is helping busy professionals by doing the tedious tasks that take away from their ability to provide the very important services they love and are good at.

Categories: Business Practices

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