Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

If Only, As Soon As and When I (or, If You Start to Clean Your Office…)

It all started with a New Years resolution… er, goal.

I wanted to create some short instructional videos for my new membership site, the Children’s Book Hub.  The problem was that the background – the area directly behind my desk – needed some attention. I have a nice window, and some art from our children’s books on the wall, and a nice bookshelf – but there was also a printer, and a stack of receipts, and a box of bills and an electronic pencil sharpener and a host of other items cluttering up the scenery and pulling focus.

If only I could move the printer….

So I relocated it to the bookshelf – the one to the other side of my desk, out of sight of the camera. That involved rewiring, of course, and it meant that the “To Be Filed” box had to find a new home, which prompted me to reorganize the entire bookshelf… which meant I ended up with a dozen or so other baskets, books and large items I needed to find homes for.

The dust unleashed by all this activity made me thirsty and sneezy, and I realized that all the shelves needed dusting, along with the rest of the office.  And one thing led to another, and I ended up reorganizing my ENTIRE office – cabinets, drawers and shelf surfaces I hadn’t cleared out in YEARS.

One trip to the dump (thank you, my most excellent and patient husband) and several trips to the attic later, I had cleared and reorganized everything in my office… except my desk.

But by this time it was 4:00 – time to take the dog for his outing to the playgroup/dog park he adores, extra necessary today because of two days of snow having rendered our morning walk all but impossible. “If only I could clean my desk first,” I think to myself. “Then, when I next walk into my office I’ll have that satisfying “ahhhh!” feeling… and I’ll be inspired to get right to work on that new story.”

But the sun goes down fast at this time of day (and year) and the dog won’t wait. And by the time I get home it’ 5:00, and I think to myself, “I’ll finish clearing the desk… as soon as I feed the dog, have some dinner, bathe the kids and call my Mom…”, which is followed by “I should really have finished that editing job today – I’ll do it when I’ve cleaned the desk.”

You get the point.

If you give a pig a pancake, he’ll want some syrup to go with it. (Thank you, Laura Numeroff.)  There will always be some other task, something else in the “In” box, some excuse (er, reason) to put off what you really want to do.

Or, you can start that new story in spite of the desk.  The desk will be there tomorrow.


7 Responses to “If Only, As Soon As and When I (or, If You Start to Clean Your Office…)”
  1. Diane says:

    Haha oh my! Emma that sounded so like me, only, the rubbish that has accumulated on my desk, would still be there tomorrow. Having an 8 – 5.30pm job 5 days aweek and sometimes 9 – 1pm on Saturdays, makes “not enough hours in a day…” sound such a good a crutch, and one I am ashamed to say I have used often. I am always one who puts off till tomorrow what could be achieved today, or something will turn my attention. (Just ask my hubby).

    But, it is because I have such limited time, because I want to achieve my goal, my dream, because of the Children’s Book Hub and the wealth of information, and fellow writer friends to help me, that I have, NO, make that, WILL make time, even 15mins to write something, be it comments on forum, editing manuscript, rewriting, or new idea writing. As long as its some form of writing. At this time of year, in my part of the world, the days start early and the nights longer, warmer and beautiful. Ahhhh yes, what a beautiful time of day to write while watching the sunrise. Cool, gentle, bright colours, not a breath of wind and sooo quiet… where are my glasses and pen….
    Write, write like the wind…. someone once said to me.

  2. Joanna says:

    It is nice to be able to visualise you now in your chaos, I mean office 🙂 I am glad our desire for videos has provoked such a huge office overhaul and that “aaaaah” feeling will be more than worth it when than desk is finally clear 😉 I manage to keep my work desk clear for fear of reprisals, but as for home, I could probably do with taking a leaf out of your book!

  3. Beth says:

    Emma — thank you so much for this post! It was encouraging and inspiring on several levels.

    It was good to learn that your office can become cluttered and dusty, too. One tends (at least this one tends) to think that everyone else has it together, and lives in a pristinely organized space where the words just flow from their fingertips into the computer, without distraction from other tasks, without procrastination. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into reality!

    You will notice I’m not posting a similar picture of my desk. I’m sure there’s a desk in front of me. I remember its rich, brown wood… and something must be holding up all this stuff, right? It will take me more than a day, or a weekend, to get it into shape, but you’ve inspired me to get started with the project…

    But first, the Office Hours I’ve promised myself, writing between 9 and 11:30 or 12 every morning. The novel is calling me. The desk will wait.

    … How do you manage so often to post exactly what I need to hear?

  4. Diane Tipton says:

    Problem is: My after looks like your before.

  5. Suse says:

    YIKES, Em…………I need to start on my whole house…………after I take Bess for a hike, after snowshoeing, after yoga, when I get back from the gym………maybe after I lose 20 pounds (then I’ll have the energy) Luv ya……..

  6. Carol Bender says:

    If it makes you feel any better I keep having to move my office as we are remodeling our farmhouse (creating a Bed & Breakfast). I always take my pictures, my owl paperweight, and then the mess just follows me. Must be the law of attraction, note to self stop being a mess.

  7. Gary says:

    Yep, I get your point. While I agree that the “one thing leads to another” can often be nothing more than a distraction from what I “should” be doing, my own surroundings won’t often ease up on the lasso squeezing my mental energy. Unless I do something about getting elbows deep into the mess, there is little chance that I will be productive with anything requiring my touch. Sorting, organizing and cleaning can and does liberate me. Once I’m free of it, so are my thoughts.

    Then there’s the influence my own disorder has on others. With Charlie as my assistant, I was “tuning up” the water softener in the basement this morning. Too bad “his nibs” tripped over the box of Christmas decorations I left on the floor. One cold shoulder later and a hefty dose of mea culpa in his direction, I succumbed to an unscheduled reorganizing in the basement. A run to the dump (excuse me…Transfer Station) is probably called for…don’t suppose you’d lend out your “most excellent and patient” one to give me a hand?

    Stay warm and cozy everyone.

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