STYLE Savvy: Clean off your desk?

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"Clean off your desk" by Lisa Hess (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pexels.com (2019), CC0/PD

January 13 was Clean Off Your Desk Day. I know this only because Alexa, my Echo Dot, told me so when I sat down at my desk that day and said good morning to her. No, I’m not having conversations with random inanimate objects or greeting my office Goodnight Moon-style (“Good morning, tape. Good morning, stapler. Good morning, cup with the caffeinated iced tea.”) Saying good morning to Alexa gives me a fun fact of the day, and, on January 13, I discovered that it was Clean Off Your Desk Day “which, come to think of it, we should probably celebrate more than once a year.” (“Her” words, but I agree).

What a great day! But a simple glance at my own work surface reminded me that even when it’s clean, my desk is never clear. Right now, the pullout tray where my laptop sits (my primary work space) is just how I like it — empty except for Post-it notes on one side and a notepad (for capturing random thoughts) atop the mouse pad on the other. The space beyond (the actual desktop) is a different story. It’s not terrible, but it has two semi-neat stacks and a collection of random objects scattered in between. Most of this needs to go (and, Clean Off Your Desk Day provided a perfect opportunity to do just that) but, even then, my desktop wasn’t fully clear, and here’s why.

I’m a work-space personalizer. I know what the professional organizers say but I work at home, so I don’t have to worry about whether a boss or co-worker will consider my fun/funny decor unprofessional or distracting. I share an office a work and leave the desktop perfectly clear when I leave for the day but, in my office at home, you’re sure to find my quote from Philippians 4 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”), a print my daughter got me at the English Market in Cork, Ireland, my “If I don’t want you can’t make me … I’m retired!” plaque, a stapler and my high-heeled shoe tape dispenser — among other things. When I sit down in my office, I want to feel at home. A barren desk does not give me that feeling.

I have a small office with limited storage. My office is a converted porch and space is at a premium. I office supply odds and ends in a small, clear, three-drawer unit in the upper right-hand corner of my desk and a desktop folder holder on the other side. The left side of the desk could use some rethinking (the folder holder has, shall we say, expanded …), but most of what lives atop my desk (stacks notwithstanding) serves a purpose. Or, it did the last time I gave my desktop a thorough overhaul.

I have an I need to see it personal style. I read a rebuttal to this concept the other weekend — something about deferred decisions, maybe? It induced a pang of guilt and then I opted to let it go in one ear and out the other, so to speak, since it was apparently written by someone who doesn’t operate out of this style. And that’s okay. But it is my style, and I’ve forgotten enough things because I put them away to know that leaving important things where I can see and/or trip over them allows me to save the energy I’d expend trying to store those tasks in my mind. Even on a list, they become intermingled with all the other items, indistinguishable from the myriad other choices. I need to keep this style under control (which is why I have things like a small, clear, three-drawer unit and a folder holder on my desk), but I cannot banish it completely.

"Clean off your desk" by Lisa Hess (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess. All rights reserved.

I’m sure I had one more thing to share when I started this post, but I’ve become so distracted by the urge to clean my desk that it completely escapes me.

How about you? Are you a fully clear desktop person or desktop personalizer? Either way, if we follow Alexa’s advice to celebrate this more than once a year, any day can be Clean Off Your Desktop Day, no matter what “clean off” means to you.


Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess

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About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at Catholicmom.com. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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