It’s difficult to write with my desk piled high with papers and books; and, at times, even the floor becomes heaped with books too. I’ve learned to accept it most of the time. After all, that is the nature of the writer’s office. And, I know that if I’m in the middle of a project, it’s almost dangerous to move things around.
My office might look completely disorganized to someone wandering into it, but I know where things are. I’m sort of between projects, so the other day I decided to get organized once and for all.
That said, here are some suggestions I came up with as I progressed through the piles. Hope they help you to organize your office whenever you decide to tackle it.
1. The first thing I did was survey my office and planned out my attack. My first observation was that there were books everywhere. I decided that I could make the biggest difference in a short amount of time by organizing the books. I organized my non-fiction books by topics and my fiction books by the names of authors. Huge difference. Loved it.
Now, I could have really gone crazy on the organization ride at this point, but I stopped there. However, if you really want to take your organization project to the top level of efficiency, catalog your books by making a card for each book or by making a data base on your computer. A friend of mine did this and loved the result. Of course, he had 5,000 books; so he was really overrun with them. (For me… this would be a bit excessive, but it might just be the thing you need).
2. Next, I decided to purge my files. I knew I didn’t have enough room in the current filing cabinets for all the piles of paper. Consequently, I had two choices: 1) buy more file cabinets or 2) purge my files to make room.
If you are truly a writer, you probably save every piece of paper you doodle on like I do. When I come across a good quote, I jot it down. It goes in a pile on my desk where it could live for up to a year. Or someone calls and I make a note of the conversation and it goes in the pile too. Now, I naturally got rid of some of these when I sorted my piles of paper, but others will need to be saved.
Before adding more to my files, I decided I had to be brave and purge those filing cabinets of the many pieces of paper I put in there last year or ten years ago when I thought I couldn’t live without them. I discarded the ones that I decided I could live without. Others, I took out and converted to electronic files. The rest, I kept.
3. Whew…. with the filing cabinets ready, I attacked the piles of paper. First, I sorted the papers into topics. Then I took a break to plan my attack. I decided that I’d do best if I gave myself a quota by inches… for example, “Today, I’ll file 2 inches of paper.” That worked for me. You’ll need to develop your own method. Kudos to you if you can sit down and file it all at once.
Here’s a piece of advice I received years ago. I’m trying to live by it now. I remember a secretary telling me once, that she attended a seminar where they said to handle each piece of paper one time only. In other words, pick up the piece of paper, do what you need to do to it, and file it where it needs to be or dispose of it. This sounded like a great philosophy, but it is very difficult to execute. Just thought I’d pass it along in case it works for you.
One of the biggest reasons I end up with so many piles is that I like to contemplate each piece of paper multiple times before I decide what to do with it. So, I pile them up. I’m trying the new method, and it does work some of the time.
4. After I finished the filing, I decided I needed to sort through my office supplies before I could say that I was truly organized. As writers, we love office supply stores, don’t we? As a consequence, I often find that I’ve accumulated lots of supplies I don’t really need. So, I decided to make a little more room by giving away the excess.
So… as of this moment in time, I am organized. Fifteen minutes from now, who knows. Thought I’d pass along these suggestions. If you do succeed at emptying, sorting and cleaning your office, pass along your best suggestions too. Who knows what me might accomplish on a desk with room to write and an office with room to walk. Let me know how you do.
Have a great day…