Even though spring is screaming from the cover of every magazine I subscribe to, we just had a massive foot of snow this past weekend. Sure enough rain is starting to replace the snow, and the fruit trees in my backyard are already starting to bud (the rest are sadly flopping over from the weight of the snow). Since I can’t quite get to gardening in the middle of snow or rain storms and the past few weekends have been brimming with activities, I started my spring cleaning small: my work desk.
This semi-annual ritual usually takes place when I’m having an extra difficult time finding documents I need. The amount of paper generated from doing experiments, teaching, reading papers and managing my various projects is quite large and without a system in place, the pile next to me just grows.
I promised myself that before Spring break ended, I would clear my desk and get everything organized to motivate myself to be extra efficient the rest of the semester. That deadline came and went, and once I got into work yesterday it was driving me nuts that my desk still looked like a tsunami came and washed a bunch of junk on it. With the students back from break, my regular schedule also resumed, leaving me with less time to do a complete overhaul like I initially planned.
To get myself in a decluttering mood, I spent part of last night searching for the perfect desk organizer on Amazon. Mostly this serves as the modern form of retail therapy where one spends 45 minutes browsing through objects that only differ slightly before settling in on the one you’re going to buy. Well, I went ahead and purchased a chic magnetic corner organizer in pink (and a super unique and highly- rated traveling neck pillow!)
My organizer isn’t arriving until tomorrow but the mere act of buying it really got me in a spring cleaning mood. When I arrived at work today I immediately went into cleaning mode. I have been at my current job for over three years, and one whole drawer in my desk still had rows and rows of files left behind from a previous lab member. I brought out the big recycling bin and started emptying everything from the drawer into it. I went slowly at first but eventually, I was just discarding entire binders of old papers and assignments.
Once the drawer was completely clear, I relabeled some of the folders and started putting my documents in. The three foot tall pile of scientific literature at the corner of my desk? Gone, neatly stacked by main subject into sub folders in the drawer. Same with notebooks from classes I’ve taken and materials from committees I belong to. Everything finally had its own place and if it didn’t seem like something I was likely to refer to again, out the recycling bin it went.
I had forgotten that I had service certificates, and other awards just under piles of other documents so I placed those where I can readily see them and get a nice little boost when I need a pick me up. All my teaching files were organized in one place and sticky notes from days long past were promptly discarded.
I have few personal trinkets at work, but the ones that I do have like a glass anniversary bauble from my husband and my collection of hand creams are now displayed more prominently. I also tamed the insane amount of binder clips and found them all a home that does not involve being randomly spread out behind my computer. I corralled all the pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes in one place so that when my new organizer arrives, I’ll be ready to put everything in its new proper place. I ended the day by using a microfiber cloth to thoroughly wipe down my computer screen, wash out my Starbucks mugs and with a Clorox wipe thoroughly clean the primary work surfaces.
Yes, I did actual work today too, but there was something so satisfying about finally checking off cleaning my desk from my to do-list. I’m now extra motivated to go into work tomorrow and have an extra productive day on my nice clean desk. It may be a small thing, but it’s the impetus for tackling those other bigger spring cleaning projects like putting a flooded basement back together.
What’s on your spring cleaning list?