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Organizing: Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea
by Kathleen Ewing

The Big O. Organizing. Books, seminars and talk shows bombard us with the virtues of organizing. It is the passport to success, the golden elixir of the new millennium. Those of us who haven’t gotten on board hear the promises that we will be more relaxed, more efficient and more productive.

My workspace resembled the fall-out zone from a paper mill explosion. If I could organize the layers of debris accumulated from six months of writing, imagine the writing I would accomplish! I would reward myself with a giant chocolate bar when I was done.

First, I scooped everything into a single stack—market notes, rough drafts, utility bills—and propped up the tilting tower of paperwork between a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Dust bunnies appeared. The size of VW’s, they parked in the previously dark corners, blinking at me in resentment. I herded them all into a corner and used a window squeegee to plunge them over the edge and into the wastebasket. After five minutes of earnest organizing, my workspace already looked much better.

I moved my clock so I wouldn’t have to swivel my chair to look at it, then hung a small calendar for scribbling deadline reminders. I added green plastic pigeon-holers, red folder-filers and yellow paper-stackers. Into them went the notes, drafts and bills.

I stood back to admire. Everything resided within sight and reach, the epitome of organization and convenience. This was a cinch. Why had I resisted doing this sooner?

Smiling smugly to myself, I drew a pen and pad from new locations. To my left I could see the bills. In front of me sat a dozen rough drafts. To my right rested reams of blank paper. I could see deadlines neatly penciled into blocks of the calendar. I could hear my battery-powered clock…ticking.

An hour later. The bills remained unpaid. Two hours later. The drafts remained unfinished. Three hours. Reams of white paper remained blank. Four. That infernal clock kept ticking. Ticking. TICKING!

For the first time I experienced writer’s block. All I could think about was those deadlines and bills lurking in my peripheral vision. Financial obligations stood before me with fists on hips, toes tapping impatiently, fingers drumming. Demanding attention. Reminding me I needed to create words and make money and I needed to do it NOW!

It is no easy task to disorganize yourself intentionally, especially when society places organization in such high esteem and you’ve just invested an entire day in the experiment. It takes three times longer to undo the damage. Un-organizing requires un-planning, un-cluttering, un-logic.  Bypassing office supply store shelves packed with colorful paper stackers, convenient folder filers and pristine calendars, I grab a box of all-purpose printer paper and a gigantic chocolate bar and head for home.

How-to articles on making my office more efficient draw scarcely a glance from me these days. The talk show evangelism expounding the merits of putting my life in order falls upon deaf ears. New generations of dust bunnies thrive and profligate in remote corners of my office. My bills are buried, deadlines hidden, the clock—blissfully—deceased.

I have long since nibbled my chocolate reward into oblivion and savored the evidence from my lips and fingertips. There are no lingering twinges of guilt. I gave this organizing bit a fair trial. It didn’t work for me. My next yard sale will reflect the futility of my valiant effort.

© Copyright 2009, Kathleen Ewing

Kathleen Ewing is an award-winning freelance writer headquartered in Central Arizonas high country. Among her credits are feature articles for Art Calendar, American Falconry, Bend of the River, TrailBlazer and Hobby Farms magazines. Visit her blog at www.rodeowriter.blogspot.com

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