My Office is a Mess! CategoriesTo Your Health & Sanity

My Office is a Mess!

An emergency!

I knew my estimated tax payment was coming due, and I couldn’t find the form. Just one sheet of paper had to be found among millions, from a terribly disorganized room – within a narrow time limit. It seemed impossible. How could this happen?

Maybe I could play a childhood game to remember where it is?

I slowly crept around my office to see if any area seemed hot (meaning, yes, my form is there), warm (maybe?), or cold (no, it’s not there). The massive clutter wreaked havoc over my memories, since my office was not in disarray when the form first arrived.

I searched, I evaluated. The bookcases were near explosion with books, folders, and loose papers among decorative framed photos and encouraging quotes. A few sentimental items peaked out from the layers. This area felt cold.

I proceeded to the desk area with tiered shelves of color-coded files among loose papers. This might be warm – I’ll come back to this.

On the floor below my computer stand was a big decorative box. This was meant to contain workshop information. Another warm area? 

No area appeared hot. I decided to go fix dinner, and to come back later.

After dinner, I realized this task could not be put off. I began work at the bookcases. Within a two-hour period, I had collected a box of books to be donated and had set up a priority of books to read during the next month. Why did I go first to an area designated as cold?

Another two-hour block was utilized the next night, this time going through files. I began at the warm desk area. As I looked through files, I separated papers out of place, organizing them into piles on the floor. I ran out of time! I placed these paper piles in a single stack on the desk, for continued processing at another time.

As I stood in the doorway, ready to switch the light out, I looked back for a moment. I remembered!

I did put that form in the decorative box on the floor. I plopped down beside it with my legs crossed and began sifting through the papers. Within minutes, I found it!

I realized this: when my office is disorganized and I can’t find what I need, I cause myself to ride an unnecessary emotional roller-coaster: I feel a sense of failure and disappointment in myself, a loss of control over the situation. Self-sabotage begins. And then… joy and relief in finding what should’ve been at my fingertips all along.  

Although this emergency was handled before the deadline, I knew other such issues would follow. For prevention, I considered, what’s my plan, my goal?

My goal is to set up and maintain an office that’s reasonably/consistently and functionally organized, with lovely/peaceful surroundings. My purpose being to maintain an environment that:

  1.   Invites dreams and creativity
  2.  Creates an uncluttered space where I store and can find items of importance.

This goal requires weekly maintenance! Some weeks, I may find myself in a situation or vacation. If that happens, it’s okay. Within weeks (not months) catching up must happen.

I have daily steps to:

  • consistently place each paper or document in a designated area where it belongs
  • with each paper to print, consider whether I really need to print it
  • with each piece of mail received, consider whether it should be filed away or shredded.

What else? Better ideas will come along; I can revise!

Do you have any suggestions for me?

Karen Lacy

Karen Lacy has a Business Administration degree from Radford University and served the Commonwealth of Virginia 31 years in areas of auditing, accounting and risk management (retired 2017). DBA Carin Jayne Casey since 2012, she strives to educate and encourage people to conquer life’s challenges through her writings and podcasts. She has written 3 books and shares 2 podcasts weekly.

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