A cluttered desk means a busy life

December 30, 2011|Kate Coleman

Happy New Year!

Did you make a resolution?

Have you already broken it?  

I haven't, and I haven't.

I don't make formal first-of-the-year resolutions.

I suppose that's a way of letting myself off the hook: If I don't make it, I can't break it, right?

Maybe, but I don't need the new beginning of Jan. 1 to motivate me.

No, my goal — stated much more frequently than annually — is to get organized.

I went to my bookshelves to find the three books on organization I owned. Not there.

Oh well. I confess to never opening two of them when they were. They were too far down on my list to get my attention.

Ah, yes! My list. Lists, actually.

I agree with organization gurus who write about the importance of writing down goals.

I do that daily — on recycled daily calendar pages. I confess to often listing even the most mundane tasks for the sheer pleasure of crossing them off when I get them done.

Of course, I rarely accomplish everything, and to save the time it would take to rewrite the undone items on a new day's list, I keep yesterday's and end up with yet another pile of paper on my cluttered desk.

That desk is a beauty. I had rescued a beat-up tabletop from my Keedysville barn nearly 20 years ago.

My late father-in-law told me he thought it had been used for butchering. Its scars and gashes suggest he was right.

I asked a friend who crafts beautiful furniture if he could make legs and refinish it without eliminating its character. Bill was able to do that, and whatever he used to return the solid walnut to its subtle sheen also smells wonderful.

But I digress.

The thing is, I've got so much stuff on it — computer printer, pretty old desk lamp, a stapler I've had since I was 9, a couple of mugs full of pencils and pens, my prized 2003 Mark Twain sports feature story trophy, Elizabeth Schulze bobblehead and, always — always — piles of paper — no one can see the beautiful desk.


I found some consolation in a quotation my friend Marie shared: "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what's an empty desk a sign of?"

Results of a Google search attribute those comforting words to Albert Einstein. I accept that without spending any more time searching.

That's progress on my path to organization, I hereby declare.

But one more detour is essential. A book I borrowed from the library more than 30 years ago —

"Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise," the 1977 bestseller by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, has stayed with me.

The sisters' 3-by-5-inch index-card-organizational system was too complicated for me, but I remember laughing out loud at the mishaps that led them to orderliness.

I'm not there yet. Probably won't ever be. And although I aspire to a tidier desk, I proclaim that digressions, distractions and detours enrich my life.

Self-acceptance also provides consolation.

Yes, Happy New Year.

Kate Coleman covers The Maryland Symphony and writes a monthly column for The Herald-Mail.


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