December 6, 2003
This morning, I am multitasking, cleaning off my desk at the same time as I write about cleaning off my desk. Of course, this is not true multitasking, since I cannot simultaneously declutter and type, it’s more Windows-style multitasking, where I do one thing for a little bit and then do the other thing for a little bit but try very hard to maintain the illusion that I’m doing both things at once instead of stealing processing resources from one effort to advance the other. In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s not just my desk, it’s mine and Mr. Karen’s, the one in our home office that we share, but most of the stuff on it is indeed mine. Also, I won’t be cleaning off the whole thing, just the left front quadrant, which is vying for the back right one for messiest spot on the work surface. There’s a stack of stuff here that is on the verge of turning into a pile, and before grows any more and starts spilling off onto the floor I need to do something about it.
The first item on the stack is a file folder labeled “Japan Oct 31 –> Nov 11, 2003”. Unlike some folders around here, this one actually contains items that relate to the label. We have a hanging file where we keep all the information on our upcoming trips, and until we left for Japan, this folder was in there. The hanging file is labeled “Mickey”, as in Mickey Mouse, because it got its start when we were planning one of our Disney vacations. Since we often have a trip in the works with a Disney component, it’s only slightly misleading to call it that instead of “Travel” or “Vacation”. Now that the trip is over, I need to go through this folder and put the things in the shred pile, the mixed paper recycling box, the white paper recycling box, the trash, or wherever else they belong now. The boarding passes, for instance, get stuck in the porcupine-shaped pencil holder on the desk, where they’ll stay until we check them against our WorldPerks statements to be sure we got the mileage credit. The folder itself goes back in the stack in the closet to be used again.
Okay, folder emptied. Next I see the papers which have the addresses of the people to whom I mailed stuff last month. Those will go in my “Karen needs to look at” drawer in the desktop organizer unit because I need to decide if I’m going to transfer those addresses to an address book in case I want to mail something to those people again sometime. (Yes, I could decide that now and act on that decision, but down that road there’s the danger of getting distracted and never getting back to clearing the stack.) Putting those papers away reveals Mr. Karen’s Hoberman pocket flight ring. How did that get there? I don’t know where that lives, so I’ll put it aside for him to put away. Under that, there are two sheets of paper with test prints of the center patch for my 2003 JournalCon magnets. Those need to go in a folder in the box where I keep the stuff I’m eventually going to turn into a quilt documentation scrapbook. Happily, just under these sheets is the “JournalCon Austin Oct, 2003” folder with all the trip information, so I’ll empty that, relabel it, put the test prints in, and pop it in the box in the closet.
This just goes on and on. It’s not even chronological. The pages I printed out with the 4th Quarter 2002 Diarist Award nominees, on which I took notes and highlighted the ones I voted for in time to meet the March 2 deadline comes before the folder for our September trip to Colorado. Most of this can get recycled, like the patient information booklet the hospital gave me before my surgery. Some things just puzzle me. Why would I have kept two paper napkins? They don’t have any logo or message that might make them a souvenir, but are just plain white napkins like one gets at any fast food place. They’re two different kinds of plain white napkins, too, so it’s almost like I had an idea to start a collection. Now they can go downstairs and we’ll use them. Maybe that was the idea in the first place: to not throw out perfectly good napkins. I have no idea what I was thinking keeping a dry cleaning receipt from April.
Ooh, I can see the Ouija board mouse pad peeking out from under the remaining things. I’m getting close! Yes, I stacked a bunch of stuff in the space that should be used for mousing. In my defense, the mouse goes with our very ancient computer, which we haven’t used in months, maybe years, and not because my stuff was stacked in front of it, either. Wait. Now I’m down to the mouse pad, and there’s stuff underneath. That’s just not right. It’s this kind of thing that I want to stop doing, stacking stuff under a mouse pad and then stacking more stuff on top of that until it gets to the point where it practically takes a team of archaeologists to tackle it.
Ta da! I now can see the surface of the desk. The mouse pad and mouse have been reunited and moved to a quiet location back by the printer so they can catch up in private. Now the challenge will be to keep this area clear. Having gotten both nature and nurture from one parent who was a champion stacker (well, he would have been if they had competitions for that kind of thing) and another who piles like few people can, any free horizontal surface looks to me like an excellent place to put stuff. The whole concept of having less stuff than space is still something I struggle with. Today has already been a successful campaign in that struggle and it’s only a little after 10 in the morning. I hope this bodes well for the rest of the weekend, because now that the clutter is gone from that corner, my to do list really stands out, and it’s full.
A year ago, I did not write an entry because I was off having fun skiing, and snow is not good for laptops.