I’ve cleared my space for writing my book and I’m ready to go!
On Thursday, November 15, 2012, an appointment I had scheduled was cancelled, thus providing me with additional time to make some preparations for my writing weekend. I took advantage of the gift of time to clear the space of the place where I was planning to work from – the kitchen table.
I have a tendency to cover flat surfaces with stuff, mostly paper. I personally call this condition – “Flat-Surface-Itis.” I believe inherited it from my parents and suspect each of my siblings are also afflicted.
Early in life, I associated it more with my Dad who would on occasion take over the entire dining room table with insurance paperwork – he sold insurance for a living. He used the table to spread out his paperwork and organize his calls for the coming day. The paper would remain there until such time, however, as my Mom got on to him, and then he would clear it all off so we could eat Sunday dinner as a family at the dining room table. He had a desk to work from in another room of the house, but the surface of it just wasn’t adequate enough to spread everything out he needed to see. I understand that completely! I like to see everything in front of me when I’m working on a project and have everything I need readily at hand.
So with the gift of extra time, I cleared my space on the kitchen table for my writing weekend. I do not have a “before” picture, so let me describe it for you.
The table is oval in shape and placed in front of a bay window looking out to our deck and the green space of colorful autumn trees behind the house. The table was covered in a wide U-shape with mounds of paper – not neat stacks mind you, MOUNDS. They had started out as neat stacks originally, but something happened to them over the course of several weeks. The mounds began to merge into one another so that you couldn’t really tell where one mound began and another ended. The mounds ranged in height from about an inch to more than 6 inches and included file folders, three-ring binders, documents, catalogs, newspapers, etc. There was a cleared square space of about two feet by two feet where my husband could sit at the table and read the paper in the morning. For several weeks now, I have worked in and cluttered this square space by day and cleared it each night so he could have his space for reading the paper every morning.
In approaching the mounds of paper I needed to clear from my work area, I called upon an organizational technique I learned about years ago – handle each piece of paper only one time. I picked up each individual piece of paper, reviewed it to see if there was any information I needed from it or any action I needed to take. If I determined it was a piece of paper I no longer needed and could trash it, I placed it in the recycled paper trash bag. If it contained confidential information, such as account numbers, I would shred it first. If it was a piece of paper I needed to keep for future reference and had a file for it, then it got filed. If I needed to keep it but did not have a file folder already, I made one and filed it, using a stand up file holder for this purpose. If I needed to take action on the piece of paper such as write a name or phone number down in my address book, or pay a bill, I immediately got up from the table and did that.
This process, though tedious, involved a lot of getting up and down and walking in the house because to follow the process precisely, one must take a given piece of paper and place it where it needs to be. For example, if I keep paid bill receipts in another room of the house, I’d take the paid invoice to that room, and filed it with the other paid bills we keep there. If it was a document that I needed to file in my office, I got up and took it there and filed it, then returned to the kitchen table for the next piece of paper to handle.
By the end of the day, my kitchen table was ready and organized for my writing weekend. And as a bonus, I’m quite certain I walked at least 10,000 steps getting my exercise in as well.
What are some of the ways you clear your space? What methods do you employ to get organized?
I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below.