Monday, August 10, 2015

The Office Chronicles: Organizing Obstacles

My office is a perfect snapshot of my life when it comes to organizing. My workspace is lovely. After a major intervention last spring, I cleared off the desk, set everything up according to my styles, added a few aesthetically pleasing touches, and I have a lovely little spot where I can work, free of visual distractions.

Behind me (when I sit at my desk) is a counter that spans the whole wall. The counter has been cleared, cleaned up and (re-)set up numerous times. Unfortunately, it's the perfect spot to dump out-of-place clutter when I need to clean up in a hurry, and it's a magnet for my drop-and-run style. It's one of the spots in my home that I fear would completely discredit my right to write about organization -- if I let anyone see it, that is.

No matter how organized we are, there are two things we cannot control: time and space. In order to get a house organized and keep it that way, we have to devote time to the pursuit. In the meantime, people live in that house. Every day, the mail comes. People return home from places outside the home, bringing items both necessary (food, toiletries, storage containers) and frivolous (I'll let you fill that one in).

A system is great, but it's only the beginning. Without a system, Easy Upkeep is impossible, but even with a system, it can feel as though it's an uphill battle some days.

What to do?
  • Stick to the styles. Sometimes progress is slow, but by using our "default settings" as the foundation of our systems, we're more likely to maintain the system in the long run. I'd have never believed it was possible to have a clear desk on a regular basis, but setting up my workspace based on my styles made it happen.
  • Resist the urge to dump. My counter is a perfect example of what happens when you don't follow this rule. I have yet to come up with an alternative to a rushed pick-up (that stuff has to
    go somewhere), unless you count the stuff-it-all-in-a-bag trick, which also backfires. If you (like me) keep falling into the stash-it-here-temporarily trap, at lease make sure it's temporary by setting aside time to sort it and put it where it belongs.
  • Keep moving. I allow very little to mess with my workspace, which keeps it the one zone in my office that's a haven where I can work without visual distraction (auditory distractions are a another post entirely). From there, I'm expanding ever backward toward my counter, widening the "untouchable" zone a little at at time, in the hope that eventually, the whole room will work the way I want it to. 
  • Make it pretty. Most of us who are not Type A organizers like the little touches that seriously organized people consider clutter. For me, developing a color scheme in my desk area not only made it aesthetically pleasing, but made it less likely I'd mess it up. Adding white lights over the (offending) counter not only shed light on the situation, but also created ambiance which made me want to spend time in the room, whether I was working or sorting. 
The office is (once again) coming along -- admittedly, not as quickly as I'd like, but progress is undeniable. In the meantime, I define success as begin able to find what I need when I need it, and in my office, that happens most of the time.

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