Unraveling Family Traditions
About That Holiday Shopping

Unpacking . . . My Desk

I often write about the state of my desk.  Which is rarely tidy.  Or, if it is tidy, it doesn't seem to take very long before it reverts to its . . . angle of repose.  Which is definitely not tidy.  In fact, often, I feel like I'm working in a canyon -- with walls of stuff surrounding my computer!

At some point, I get to feeling claustrophobic enough that I straighten it all up.  
And then I swear that I'll keep things tidy.  
This time. 
But then . . . angle of repose.  
(Rinse.  Repeat.)

In fact, I tidied up my desk and organized everything on Sunday.  This morning, though, I can feel the canyon walls creeping in.  (And this photo doesn't show the other side of my desk.)  (Or the surrounding floor.)  (Or the cart within easy reach.)


I thought . . . let's analyze this.  Break it down.  Unpack the situation.  
What's going on with my desk?  Why do I let these canyon walls build up?  
So I took a quick photo.  Just for assessment purposes.  And do you see what I see?

1 - Behind my desk (not terribly clear, probably, in this photo) is a stack of papers for a project I'm working on right now.  I have segregated them out from my in-box, and they are neatly stacked.  But on top of them, I've placed a metal "book hug" that I use for my iPad so I can see it when I'm knitting (I use KnitCompanion for all my patterns, and need my iPad nearby).  A set of size 3 double-points are resting in it (because I need them for my next project).  And there are two sets of headphones, a pair of cheaters, a party invitation, and some checks I need to deposit.  All things I need to keep in ready-reach today.  (Except, probably for the "book hug" and the needles.)  (But they fell off the couch while I was on a phone call last night and I needed to put them somewhere in a hurry.)

2 - I keep an in-box on the corner of my desk.  It's even organized with marked file folders -- so I can neatly file away the papers that come my way!  (They remain . . . empty.)  The in-box is really just a "corral" for stacks of paperwork that is not immediately necessary (but I always know what's in the "corral", y'know?).  The in-box is usually the first canyon wall.  Because I can continue to stack stuff in it.  Even stuff that has nothing to do with paperwork!  Like . . . library books.  My iPad.  A stretchy flip belt that I can use for my phone when I don't have pockets.  And another pair of cheaters.  (Uh huh.)  My in-box really serves as a repository for things I don't want to lose track of , but that I don't need now.  I know where things are; I know what's in there . . . for later.  (Except for the stuff on top.  That's just . . . convenient.)

3 - And then . . . there's all the stuff that just winds up ON my desk.  A coaster for my tea.  Pretty cards and notes I've received in the mail.  Three or four ongoing pads for jotting ideas and random thoughts and figures (because, you know . . . I probably can't find one when I need it, so I grab another from the basket on the cart. . . ).  A tape measure (I'm buying new throw rugs, and I've been using it a lot the last few days as I finalize my decisions).  Lovely yarn (from Vicki) that I received this week. (I like to keep it near -- for inspiration - as I try to figure out what to do with it.)  (I'm thinking maybe socks.)  My planner.  My phone.  Another pair of cheaters.  (Hmmm.) (I always have ALL the cheaters - or NONE of the cheaters  - when I need them.) Random post-it notes for myself everywhere.  Business cards.  Yarn labels.  

(And that, my friends . . . is How Happen!)

Going through this exercise will NOT help me keep my desk neat and tidy.  Really, it won't change a thing.  But it does help me understand  what's going on.  Because my desk . . . is kind of an extension of my brain.  And this is how my brain works.  I like to keep my immediate projects close at hand -- where I can SEE them.  I also like to keep my not-immediate projects "corralled" in a safe space.  And I seem to have no problem working with a lot of inspiration nearby.  (And, well . . . I'm also kind of lazy and drop things where the land.)  (You might get an eye-twitch if you could see how many open tabs I have on my browser. . .)

So.  This is the official news of the day:  I am not going to worry about my desk anymore.  Now that I'm "almost 60", I think it's time for me to stop apologizing for the state my desk (which is representative, I guess, of how I think).  It's time to just accept that I'm good with canyon walls.  That I will stop to control the piles when I need to.  And that . . . while I may be a bit messy, I'm also effective.  And creative.  And I don't tend to lose things ever.

(But perhaps I really do need to get the cheaters situation under control.)

How about you?  What's your workspace like?


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Someone did a study: https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/a-messy-desk-is-a-sign-of-genius-according-to-scie.html
And I would not call it messy at all; it's your own kind of organization and it works!


My work desk is very tidy and organized but my home desk is a a study in piles. I rarely work at my home desk because it is too cluttered. I think your desk space sounds very creative.


My desk runs the same cycle as yours... does it frustrate me? Yes, but I am with you... at the ripe old age of almost 58 things are not likely to change. (or if they will, the things that I work to change are things that have a greater impact than my personal desk)

I love this thought process.... but I am heaving a huge sigh of relief as a fellow cheater-collector! I have them everywhere! Haha!


Clearly, you have more to keep track of than I do. Last week I had to clean my desk off as company was coming to stay in the guest room/office. (I did have a few piles stuck in the closet, but most things were put in their place.) An hour after the guests had gone the piles were starting to creep in. I now have the work space of about 10" square, which should start decreasing today when I begin writing letters and Christmas cards. Oh well, like you, I don't worry about it (much).


I agree ... your desk looks perfectly normal to me. and the fact that you can actually FIND the things you need, get INSPIRATION from things laying about and generally GET DONE what you need to says it's clearly a system that works. except for the cheaters. I'm not sure there is any system that works for that!


I'm surprisingly messy when it come to my desk. I have things that need to be filed, things I don't want to deal with but can't throw away, and things I'm currently working on. I mostly get things done and I do a purge every now and again but I probably could be neater. Also, I don't need cheaters yet.

kim in oregon

Good for you. Stealing this from you to see if I can make it work.


I was going to mention the study that Bonny mentioned above! My desk at work is VERY neat. I don't keep much paper at work these days - all is on the computer (no longer sending stuff to storage at the end of every year - YAY...no filing - YAY). But...at home...it's a different story. My desk is in the room that also has my sewing machine/cabinet/fabric/yarn/bookcase(s). I'll go through and clean (it has been a long, long time) and it all looks neat and tidy for a short period of time. On the bright side, I've pared down to only one filing cabinet!! No cheaters here - they don't make them strong enough!!


I've got an unused desk in the front living room that I keep threatening to turn into my creative / work space but have yet to do. That said...big yarn/magazine/ipad/project bags, etc. pile to the right of my chair and paper pile on one corner of counter are my messy areas which like the rest of us seem to be a fact of life and occasionally culled! I also do not lose things!


You don’t sound messy at all, just very busy!

Jeannie Gray

I consider my desk to be organized chaos. It looks like a disaster but I know where everything is. But your post did get me looking a little closer to what's on my desk... and now I'm wondering why I have 4 bottles of nail polish and six rubber stamps/stamp pads taking up space when I can't remember the last time I used either. And I won't mention the pile of Easter candy still hanging out in my 'junk tray' (I don't have a drawer.)


I would love to send you a picture of my desk. You would feel much better. I'm beyond canyons and into the gorge or perhaps the African Rift.

kathy b

Im proud of you . Almost 60 here too,and I'd rather find meaning in why I get things done, than how my desk looks! Letting go of the barn newsletter means my desk is much clearer. It also means my mind is much less stressed. I guess my desk is actually the barn,.....scooping up poop and brushing the horses....

and I love that


Yes, let's not worry about how desk tops or counter tops. Life is too short. As long as I can find things, create, and not lose important paperwork - the system works. That said, I tend to do better with some open spaces so now and then it a fit of neatness, I tidy up.


My desk is worse than yours... because it is bigger. I have a couple of desktop shelf units that help a lot.


Looks like you have a rich creative life to me. ....although when my desk - which looks a lot like yours - makes me think sometimes how soothing it might be to be a Buddhist monk. Nah....never going to happen.


Ummmm. That's MY desk... and my kitchen table and my workroom table!! Haha. No apologies.

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