SOL: Finding My Desk

Today my desk is cleared of stacked books and papers. Everything is where it belongs.

Today no pile threatens to topple over a cup of liquid. It is habitable.  But I’m not kidding myself; I know as the week rolls on, things will start to accumulate, in a pile, a basket, or a bag. I’ll place the book, the papers there with sincere promises to return when I find the time. Give it a week and that tidy desk will be no more.

Every time I find this place of organizational nirvana; I vow to maintain it, to put things away. To abandon my “I’ll do it later” attitude. Every time life rolls on and putting something away is trumped by a more enjoyable pursuit.

Oh to be an organized person. The one who has students leave the classroom with all the chairs up on wiped down desks in a room with a lemony-Lysol smell, accented by the Hawaiian air freshener wafting through the air vents. To be a teacher with completed lesson plans on Friday; who has a neat and organized home awaiting her arrival before sunset.

Sadly, I am not of that tribe. For some reason either because I’m not willing to spend the energy, or because my brain doesn’t work that way, or because I get more out of doing other things, putting things away is the last thing I tend to do.

Reading about messy-desk people, I found an exceptional group of individuals. I could use these people to justify my lack of interest in maintaining order. Studies support the idea that an unstructured environment allows for the development of new ideas and fresh insights. Being one of those creative, gifted types sounds appealing. Could it be?

When I’m not teaching, eating, or dealing with family, my natural tendency is to read or write, not put something away. Does that mean I have the sensibilities of a Twain or an Einstein? Or could it be I find organizing something to be done at the end of a semester, a project, or when I’m looking for my glasses?

Maybe I view organizing the way some people view editing. You know those folks who don’t bother to edit till they have gotten to the end. I can’t imagine waiting to edit. I edit as I write. Then I do a thorough editing at the end. What a mess I’d have if I waited until the end of the piece to do it all.

Perhaps I should approach my desk as a writer. Maybe if I view the pile of papers and stacks of books as something to do along the way, things will make more sense. Maybe if I take a writer’s stance to tidying up,  I’ll find the ability to maintain an organized desk. And find my glasses when I need them.

Thank you, for reading my meandering thoughts atop a tidy desk, for Slice of Life Tuesdays with Two Writing Teachers, and for the wonderful group of slicers who show up every Tuesday to write.

Read more slices here.


16 thoughts on “SOL: Finding My Desk

  1. I think a messy desk is just a reflection of prioritizing. You know what is important at the moment when you make the piles and it isn’t a clean desk. When the time for the clean desk becomes a priority, it becomes clean. Anyway, that’s my rationalization and I am sticking to it.

  2. I am an organizer, but by no means does that make me someone who doesn’t have a pile on a table next to my desk at the end of each day. I try to put in 10 minutes at the end of the day to organize the pile. I wonder if it’s not that you aren’t an organizer, but that you prioritize your life differently. You seem to be doing just fine and if every once in a while you remember how lovely a tidy room looks–that can work as well, right? It’s like loving how your house looks decorated for Christmas, but you aren’t going to make Christmas decorations last forever. Enjoy it when it’s there and live your life. xo

    PS Air fresheners are yucky

  3. I love this piece because we are so much alike. I’m a stacker. I have piles everywhere. I do like when I finally get them organized, but then all I have is organized piles. I want to go with the genius theory.

  4. I always knew what each stack held, but finding certain things was always a bit of a joke. There is too much fun in other activities, as you so beautifully wrote. It does seem to be an opposite way of thinking that you edit as you write, but don’t organize as you go. Interesting to ponder, Julieanne.

  5. I am definitely a full-fledged member of your tribe! I laughed when I read about your untidy desk getting untidier as the week goes by. I just finally cleaned off the dining room table filled with materials I used and referred to for two workshops I gave earlier this spring. I have to wait until I feel inspired to “tidy up” because, like you, there are so many other things I’d rather be doing! I have finally realized it’s how I process my life, for better or worse.

  6. I wish I could include a photo of my desk right now. Mike shudders when he ventures into my office and looks at my work space. This is my way of organizing. One day I will do something different, but that is in the future.

  7. Perfectly said! I stack and sort later. Just to much to do – I find I actually like coming back a bit later to sort and put away. I have a better sense of what I want to keep or what I might need, and what really I can let go of. My husband leaves his deck area each day clean with only his computer sitting in the middle of the desk charging – nothing else. This would be why we have two offices in our house! 🙂

  8. I feel similarly about my desk. And I also feel this way about my closets. It feels so refreshing to have a tidy desk or closet, but I can’t kid anybody either – it doesn’t last long! Keep putting the reading first – definitely more enjoyable!

  9. Priorities . . . and the fact that students who are reading and writing are a higher priority than using their precious time on cleaning up at the end of their day! I’m confident you can find items when you need to so life’s not a mess . . .just not tidy every day! (There are worse things!)

  10. I think your piece reminds me that there are MANY ways to do things!! I am so much like you – if I have free time, I am reading and writing or creating. NOT cleaning. Yet, I do like it when everything is in its place. I plan before the last day of school (Or maybe the week after) to organize ALL my cabinets. Sure, I could already have it done or stayed after today to do one or two. But no, instead, I’m making comments because it is Tuesday…much more fun. Yes, I’ll enjoy it WHEN my cabinets and filing cabinet is organized…but for now, I’m enjoying writing to you and I KNOW you get that!! Thanks for sharing today in writing!!

  11. Best piece of teaching advice I got early on from my faculty advisor – “Great teachers have messy desks. They spend their time engaged with children.” As I throw things onto my teacher area multiple times a day (don’t even have a desk – just a messy area) I think of this, almost daily, more than 2 decades later!

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