The desk conundrum

Since the beginning of July, I hadn’t done any filing or tidying in the office. The desk, dresser and window sill have been heaped with a messy tangle of paperwork, photos, cheque books, pens, scraps of paper, notebooks, CDs and DVDs, instruction manuals, dust, dead flies, coins, jewellery, camera lenses, folders, files, receipts, bank statements, medical reports, bills, batteries and chargers.

I’ve been totally ashamed and disgusted every morning, and every evening I have resolved to deal with it first thing next day, and the months have rolled by with the only change being increasing mess.

There’s no  excuse. True we did have visitors staying for almost three months, and I was unwell for several months, but neither the visitors nor the ailment left me unable to sort out a pile of papers. I can’t find an explanation for it.

Among the piles was correspondence with the tax office, who thought we hadn’t paid something which we had. Failure to make the requested payment in time would result in a visit from the bailiff. The correspondence had been there for several days, picked up and put down every day, but today was the deadline to respond. The choice was to ignore it, let the bailiff turn up and triumphantly wave the receipt for the payment under his nose, or write to the tax office and send them all the necessary evidence and receipts. That seemed the more sensible path, so fortified with a strong coffee and a bowl of porridge I sat down and wrote to them, copied all the correspondence, and filed it away.

That seemed to unlock the dam, and in less than an hour the surfaces were clear and cleaned, everything dealt with and filed. As quick and easy as that.

I’m feeling better and far less tired today than I have done for months. Whether that’s the effect of sorting out the mess, or the cause of it, who knows? But it’s certainly a relief on both counts.

Is a cluttered desk a sign of a cluttered mind, or a creative one? Speaking for myself, I find that it does nothing to feed creativity, in fact just the opposite. I don’t want to sit at it. The clutter overwhelms me. On the other hand, a totally empty desk is daunting. How do other feel about this? Does anybody else let mess get on top of them?

As Albert Einstein (renowned for the untidiness of his desk) said: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”


Maybe a potted plant, a pen, notebook and cup of coffee will strike the right balance.




11 thoughts on “The desk conundrum

  1. Ah, those wee strips of paper from envelopes are devilish little critters. They’re somewhat hard to spot, all pale and loitering and curled up and hiding as is their way. Then just when you think you’ve done a fine job of tidying, they stop lurking and out they come. Along with their friends the paper clips. It’s a plot, I tell you!

  2. I wish I could find the paper clips….I don’t seem to have a desk any more since Leo appropriated it for his computer and my filing lives in the ‘bags for life’ I bring back from the U.K.
    It is a wonderful system as I know where everything is and the bags don’t gather dust as they are hung from the backs of chairs and get walloped by passing dogs several times a day.

    But I would like to find the paperclips….

  3. @Alison – I am really sorry to hear that. You’ve been unwell so often this year. I suspect it’s living upside down that’s causing it. You need to move permanently to Poitiers. Get well soon. xx

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