Spring is the season of fresh starts and new life. How appropriate then, that in March we celebrate so many holidays to help writers de-clutter, clean up, and organize their work areas.
Yesterday (March 12) was Organize Your Home Office Day. Even if you missed that, you can still celebrate National Clutter Awareness Week starting March 17, which flows nicely into National Cleaning Week, which begins March 24.
As with everything we writers do, you need to set goals for cleaning your home office that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). If you know you’ll be chauffeuring kids around all week to various sporting events, don’t commit to cleaning your entire office. You’ll just get discouraged and abandon the project soon after it starts.
We will learn how to tackle the intimidating tasks of organizing your home office and getting rid of clutter in small increments, which, ultimately, will allow you to concentrate more on your writing and less on the mountain of stuff surrounding you.
First things first—your desk.
Stop whatever you’re doing right now and look at your desk.
What do you see?
Is your Inbox overflowing? Are there piles of paper stacked on one or both sides of your computer? Do research materials for more than your current work in progress make a home on your desk? Are there non-writing related items taking up space on the work surface?
Now you’ve identified your problem areas, you need to have an action plan.
Find three boxes. Mark the first one "Keep," the second "Recycle/Toss," and the third "Put Away."
Going from one side of your desk to the other, pick up each item and decide where it goes. This includes paper and non-paper items like an old stamp pad that has long since dried up, the broken mechanical pencil tucked in the middle drawer, and the stress ball you play with when you’re on a deadline.
The items in your "Keep" box should only be those objects, papers, and research materials important to your current project. Everything else needs to find a home elsewhere. This includes pictures, books, papers, and office supplies. Walls and bookcases make a great place to display your children’s artwork, and, if need be, you can purchase a few containers to hold office supplies.
Anything that ends up in the "Recycle/Toss" box should make it out to the garbage can or recycle bin right away. This will give you a great sense of accomplishment.
Take a few moments to get the items in your “Put Away” box in their proper place. It’s good for your body to stretch and walk around, and, once again, you’ll see the difference not having these items in your way will make.
The last thing you need to do is return the items from your "Keep" box to your work surface. Take a moment to reevaluate each item before you make a space for it on your desk.
Now you have an organized and clutter free desk, take a deep breath and feel how much more relaxing it is to sit where you aren’t bombarded on all sides with piles of stuff threatening to topple over when someone rushes by.
Congratulate yourself on a job well done.
Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com