Wednesday, December 16, 2020

True Confessions Wednesday: Small Steps and Turning Points

True Confession #50: For me, taking small steps has many benefits.

At the end of every semester, there are things to organize. Because I collected no physical papers this semester, there were fewer things to file but, because I have an I need to see it personal style, things were hardly paperless. Consequently, one of my first endeavors at the end of the semester is to tie up loose ends and put everything away, preferably in a place where it will be easy to access.

Inevitably, this leads to a reorganization of my (home) office as well. Because of the pandemic, my campus visits were direct and as brief as possible. Put on my mask, walk to class, teach and leave. Other than a once-weekly visit to my mailbox, that was it. I visited my on-campus office only once all semester, to check for a book I needed. As a result, everything I needed for class, from textbooks to the last little note jotted on a scrap of paper, lived in my home office. 

No matter how well organized I am throughout the semester, things get hectic in the final crunch, leading to lots of those little notes to myself -- things to remember, things to do differently (or again) next semester, new resources to check out. I plan on paper, too, as I really need to see it when I'm sketching out readings, discussions and assignments. 

When I set up my system at the start of the semester (a single drop spot for everything I used on a regular basis, in keeping with my drop and run organizational style), it "lived" on the counter in my office. After a while, though, that started to bug me. I'd worked hard to clear off that counter and, the bin, while organizationally useful, had a rather large footprint. I moved it to the floor, which was also not a great solution, but it was accessible and I figured I'd deal with it at the end of the semester.

Which arrived two weeks ago. It was time.

So, for the past two weeks, I've been chipping away, one project at a time. Integrating the bin into my existing systems was the first step and, in a small office, it was more giant step than baby step. Plan A didn't work, but it resulted in a new configuration for the top of my desk. This led to the purchase of a long-sought-after clip on lamp to resolve the lighting issue that had become even more apparent with the advent of Zoom sessions. I'm debuting it tonight at my critique group meeting to see if it withstands the acid test of an evening meeting. The reconfiguration also led to me taking a file sorter that was more decorative than functional (and was therefore not earning its keep) and pressing it into service, so that it now does more than look pretty.

Next up was the small, round table imported from my parents' house. Its portability gives me the functionality of the L-shaped desk I crave, but that won't fit into my tiny office. This only works, however, when it's not littered with a collection of notes and reading material, so that was step two. 

In the process of all of this weeding, clearing and filing, it's become evident that I need a better system for my many writing projects and ideas. And, as I mentioned last week, I also need a home for all the materials I'm gathering for a newish class I'm teaching next semester. These projects are next up. They'll not only help me feel less scattered, but they also have the added advantage of allowing me to procrastinate. The file box with the contents of my relocated file cabinet will be the last to go, unless I make good on developing the habit of clearing out three files after dinner at least three times a week.

At five feet nothing and with limited athletic prowess, I'm not much of a volleyball player. I do, however, remember the concept of rotating so that everyone on the team gets a chance to serve, and it comes to mind every time I do one of these office mini-makeovers. I almost always have everything I need, but, at the end of the process, many existing team members have taken on new roles. 

Though it sometimes frustrates me that I never seem to be "finished," I'm beginning to accept that as a reflection of a life that continues to grow and change, and that's a very good thing. Taking this process step-by-step and doing it in multiple sessions not only gives me a chance to absorb the changes so I can remember where things are, it builds in a way to weed out the old to make room for the new. For every item that needs to claim its space, there's one (or more) to get rid of, and, next to clear spaces, that's the part of organization that I like best.

In the final weeks of the semester, I'd begun to dread walking into my office at home. Doing so only made me long for a day when I could grab a book to read for fun and go wherever I wanted in the house to enjoy doing just that. For the past week, I've loved walking into my office. Part of that clearly has to to with the fact that my fall semester tasks are complete, but much of it has to do with the fact that I've reclaimed the space as an organized oasis -- or at least made significant progress in that direction.

Life brings its hectic times, but it also brings us opportunities to recover, even if the balance feels far from perfect. Within those routines -- or the lack thereof -- we find turning points that can spark our desire to purge, to clear, to grow and to organize.

What are your turning points?

No comments:

Post a Comment