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Is a Clean Desk a Key to a Messy, Creative Mindset?

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I lived most of my life with stacks of paper on my desk, which I think is wood, and piles of manila folders on my floor, which I believe has a rug somewhere.

Create a peaceful space to be completely present, engaged, and focused on whatever you are doing.

I used to boast I knew where everything was or that for a creative person to clean and organize would be like cutting Samson’s hair.

Not true now. Maybe never was.

Perhaps it is a blessing of the busy-ness of growth or the curse of aging, but I found myself wasting more time looking for stuff.

Worse, work-life felt like Steve Martin being jolted awake by John Candy driving on the wrong side of the road careening toward two semis and cackling like a denizen from hell. “You’re going the wrong way! You’re going to kill someone! Those aren’t pillows.”

I have actually tried many task management tools over the decades, but find I can’t stick with it when the heavens open and rain trillions of pieces of paper on me. (Idiot alert.) Even though my output could be prodigious, I didn’t have time for time management

So I am embarking on a quest to learn how to increase productivity and reduce stress – simultaneously. It fits with our company culture goal to be an anti-sweat shop CPA firm—especially during busy season.

In this and future posts I will share what I am learning.

First, I have been reading widely, but I think GTD (getting things done) guru David Allen nails the principle which I interpret this way:

Create a peaceful space to be completely present, engaged, and focused on whatever you are doing.

My first step was to create a personal rule:

  1. Only one file (work task) on my desk at any given moment.

Everything else is put away in a virtual or actual folder, logged into Wunderlist, and waiting patiently for my attention.

Is it working? I can tell it’s a step in the right direction. I feel more in control, more positive, and less stressed with an increasing workload. Oh, my desk is attractive cherry wood and my large rug nicely compliments the hardwood floor.

There is, however, a lot more to do.

So stay tuned.

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