Day 3: Clearing a Work Space, Sept. 19, 2012


How can I plan a class in this mess?

OK, I didn’t get into this mess overnight and it’s not going to get cleaned up in a day. My strategy is to to clear a usable workspace first, so that I won’t have to work in the living room or bedroom anymore.
The office has two desks. The regular one is piled a couple of feet deep with crap, so I decided to tackle the computer desk. Last year I cleared it off (mostly) and sorted a bunch of files for my lectures, separating and tossing the old material. That’s pretty much where the current folders stayed after the class ended, but mostly everything on the desk is teaching-related. So that seemed like the most promising place to start. The picture above is the “before:” how it looked when I walked in there.


After thirty minutes, not much improvement. What you can’t see is a bunch of stuff I recycled.

I set a timer and got to work. I told myself I would declutter for 20 minutes, then work on my lecture. Typically for me, I got sidetracked and started mixing the two jobs together. I started going through a tub on the floor where I had dumped class-related stuff during an earlier pass at the room in August.
So after 30 minutes, as you can see from the second picture, it didn’t look like much. It’s OK though, because I had located some important papers – like the texts of next week’s lectures! I continued to put them in piles that made sense, and I threw away a whole bunch of surplus papers. At this point it’s important to congratulate myself for going in there and working at all, even if I’m not doing it very well yet.


I found my lecture, filed some stuff, put some papers in order, and left the desk ready for the next day’s work. Total time about 2 hours.



I had to stop decluttering and prepare for class, but at the same time I was able to put the papers in something like an order, ready to be worked on the next day. After a couple of hours it looked pretty decent. It’s inviting, and I know where I need to start the next day. That’s important too. Hooray for me! I’m eager to come back the next day – let’s see if I do it.


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