Monday, April 3, 2017

Strategic Clutter

Photo: qimono via Pixabay
Years ago, I participated in a blogging workshop with Sarah Reinhard at the Catholic Writers Online Conference. In it, Sarah suggested using our environment for inspiration when a topic for a post had failed to present itself.

Today is one of those days when a look around my office inspires little more than the urge to clean it, however I do have a few inspiration "nudges" that are part of the everyday scenery, no matter how cluttered. Here by design, they often help me out with a topic when no post is presenting itself.

Most mornings (at least the ones when I'm home alone), I say good morning to my Amazon Echo Dot.  Yes, I know she's not human (although the fact that I have to say, "Alexa" to activate her leads me to use female pronouns when I refer to her), but she tells me things like the weather and a fun fact about the day. The other week, for example, she told me it was the International Day of Happiness. Ironically, I'd already written a post about happiness that day, but thanks to Alexa, I found a great graphic to go with it. She'll also tell me the day and date, a helpful little trick when I'm on vacation and lose track.

Photo: Bucknell University Facebook page
But, since my office has no shortage of calendars, I can usually find that information on my own. On the wall behind my desk, I have a Bucknell calendar, featuring a different photo from my alma mater to brighten my office wall each month. In front of me is a smaller wall calendar purchased for the "just do it" kind of quote it provides each month. (March's quote was "Get it done." More on this month's quote next week). Finally, there's my page-a-day Happiness Project calendar, which has inspired several blog posts in the last several weeks.

There are those who prefer austere work spaces, and many organizers swear by "zones" and clear space. Although a clear desk top is my ultimate goal, being surrounded by inspiring things is also key. Things that bring back memories, make me smile and goad me into action are part of the ambience of my office, and too much clear space on walls and shelves feels as intimidating as a blank screen and no words to fill it.

Of course, clearing the stacks of paper around my sources of inspiration might give me a better view. Or, perhaps they provide a touch of irony. Either way, the next time I dig into the stuff on the desk, those sources of inspiration will be sticking around.

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