Most people make personal New Year’s resolutions: Eat better! Lose weight! Exercise daily! But at the start of the year I came up with some workplace resolutions. When I moved cubicles in early January, I vowed to keep my new space clutter-free, which means putting my shoes in a drawer rather than kicking them into a pile under my desk. Another resolution: Hang up my coat every day, rather than tossing it over the “chat” chair by my desk. I also promised to drink more water—I even programmed a reminder into my Outlook calendar. I vowed to dutifully file expenses in a timely fashion, and to keep email pile ups to a minimum.
So now that it is well into the new year, it’s time to evaluate my progress. A nasty bout of the flu derailed some of my best intentions. I still have one last box to unpack that has been sitting here for more than six weeks, violating the no-clutter rule. Even so, on most days, my coat makes it into the closet. Overall, I’m a bit more organized—although I don’t know if I’m actually more productive or efficient. But a colleague came by to commend me on how organized and clean my cubicle looks, so I guess I’m off to a good start.
Why do we crave order in our lives? I remember my high school English teacher giving a pep talk to the class about organization. Before we plunged into writing our term papers, she recommended cleaning up first, which is a metaphor for organizing your thoughts. That was more than 20 years ago, but, even today, I find myself cleaning my workspace before I take on a new assignment.
At home, my need for order is similar, although the territory is much bigger, and, therefore, much harder to conquer. For example, my son’s sock drawer is in ship shape. (How many socks can one toddler own, after all?) My own sock drawer, however, is a work in progress. A weekend project? Perhaps. But first I have to sort through this pile of mail on my desk.