Creeping Clutter

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a drastic clearing of my desk. Not that it was totally out of control, mind you, but it did annoy me and wore me out. So I bought a decorative box where everything would go at the end of each day, thereby leaving my desk in a totally clear, totally expansive, totally open gesture, preparing for new possibilities. I loved this look. I had controlled the outside paper, duties, lists and put them in a box with a lid. Well, an interesting and curious phenomenon developed.

I basked in this emptiness for over a week. I’d peek into my office during off hours just to look at the desk, admiring such perfect Feng Shui. I’d walk in each morning, take out the box, and look through the stack. Everything was there in that stack that I’d need for the day—-I just had to go through the papers. I didn’t lose anything in another stack somewhere—-it was all in one place. It was mainly the top half of the stack that was most relevant and I would go through it several times during the course of one day to make sure I hadn’t overlooked anything. The system was working flawlessly.

Then, and I recall the exact moment and the exact situation, one evening I remembered something I had to do right away the next morning. I jotted it down on a piece of paper and, because of its urgency, didn’t put it in the box, but instead put it on my desk so I definitely wouldn’t forget to deal with it when I walked in the next day. Sure enough, the next day, there it was. Over-riding the box and the system which I had set up seemed innocent enough just this one time, but it opened the gates. That next day I wrote a couple more things down and also had a letter to follow up with—-left them on my desk so right away the next day I’d jump right on it. You can see where this is going.

Soon I had a stack—-again. It wasn’t big and it wasn’t all over the place, but it was the beginnings of a full-blown stack. I sadly realized I didn’t trust my own system. I must have figured I’d meander into my office, think I had nothing important to do, and leave. This, of course, is never the way I work, but what else could it be? Of course, the question remains unanswered as to why I’d undermine my own perfect method of maintaining a clear desk. Perhaps afraid of the outcome? Perhaps needing to feel overwhelmed/important? Clutter is infectious, particularly when it starts in the mind.