A friend, invited to speak at a conference on how to organize, asked for helpful tips on how I manage my office.
If she’d ever glimpsed my workspace, she would have deleted my name from her e-mail blast before hitting SEND.
For in the loft office, 6 steps up from my tidy bedroom, works a derelict.
I may be the most disorganized working person in the universe. It’s almost laughable, since I relish taking charge in other aspects of my life, striving for order and efficiency.
This is a woman who empties wastebaskets, wipes countertops and runs vinegar through the coffeemaker with disturbing regularity.
Yet in my office, I’m a slob.
How slobby am I?
Let me count the ways …
Not a square inch of white desktop is visible.
To the left of my monitor, a crystal paperweight anchors a stack of to-do notes, some from 1998.
Horizontal files cover the floor: one for materials related to the memoir I’m writing, another for my Frommer’s guidebook, a third for travel pieces I’m working on, a fourth for unclassifiable flotsam.
The utility table I bought several years ago for deck barbecues and dinner parties I never host, groans under piles of periodicals, newspaper clippings (yes, I still clip newspapers) and assorted stuff I need to go through when I have nothing better to do.
Under the table you’ll find milk cartons full of maps and travel-related memorabilia and tax info (just in case Uncle Sam pays a call to find out why I work so many hours and earn less than a 16-year-old hamburger-flipper).
Despite the disarray, I can usually find what I need within a week.
I understand why my M.O. shouts dysfunctional to anyone considered sane. And it works for me.
I’ve never won awards for linear thinking. But somehow, I get the job done.
And twice a year—three, if I’m really bored—I shift into ruthless mode and fill several Santa-size sacks with recyclable paper.
Yet my pleasure at having achieved order is short-lived. And I am compelled to restore chaos. The sooner the better.
In between these search-and-destroy missions, I live in fear that someone–my agent, editor or, worse yet, my mother–will arrive unannounced and discover my dirty little secret.