Clean-Up Resolution Runs Deep

Buckeye Farm Beat

Restoring order to my office following a year of Congressional disputes, international upheaval, major drought and growing world hunger is no small task.

Published on: January 3, 2013

Happy New Year. We’ve sailed over the cliff. Not sure if we have landed yet. Don’t know about you, but I am still bracing for a jolt. Politics never stops.

Winter’s here in force. I had to give our Labrador pup The Dude an extra nudge to get him out into the frigid morning sun today. At six months this is his first winter and the snow’s pretty fun to eat and roll in and dig up. So is the extension cord that lights the Christmas spotlight. At least it wasn’t plugged in when he gnawed it in half.

So my resolution for 2013 is maintain a neat and clean office environment this year -- as opposed to cleaning the office every month or so. You see my organizational instincts are buried deep in the production schedule of the publication. For a month I gather stories and a layer of debris – mostly paper and note pads, press releases, letters, publications, public relations materials, brochures, business cards, more note pads, receipts, CDs, printed emails, a couple of calendars, etc.

The cleaning process is usually stimulated by a need to find something – the invitation to the Cattleman’s banquet, that receipt for parking at the fairgrounds, the agenda for the crop production conference, the phone number for the guy with the Great Lakes Mapping Initiative, etc. Occasionally, I go straight to where I last put the item. There it is right under the climatology map that shows the ocean currents that will determine our weather for the coming year. I knew that’s where I put it.

While I always feel a little relief that maybe the Alzheimer’s’ threat is not as great as I was beginning to fear, success, too often, only postpones real desk cleaning. OK! Found it! I’ll get an email out now. Postponing the full clean up can lead to multiple layers of debris. Now finding something becomes a little more like small-scale archeology. Peeling back the layers of time to locate the corrections of the cover story I had printed off from that guy’s email two weeks ago. I think I put it next to the Power Show tickets or maybe the business card from the guy with Brookside Labs.

You would think after 30 some years, I would have a system for organizing my note pads. I do. On the cover I write the date and the name of the event I’m reporting on. That way, when I see the pad, I’ll know immediately what’s in it. The trouble is my note pads are always opened so I can dig out the comments I jotted down at the meeting or interview or press conference or field day or telephone call or grand opening or facility tour, etc. The open pads all look exactly the same. They are the small ones you get as a five pack at the dollar store. I have to methodically lift and close each one to see what the cover says. Well, look there is that receipt I got when I bought the last batch of notepads. I will put it right over here next to the booklet about our employee health care.

Like the archeological dig, sometimes cleaning up uncovers treasures so valuable they demand immediate attention. As I dig for the notes to go with climatology map, I find a coupon. Oh my God it is that coupon for a free sub. It’s good for a week. What’s the expiration date? Jan. 2? I’ve got to go get a sub today.

On the other hand, coming upon unexpected jewels also reminds one that time seems to accelerate as it passes. What is that under the coupon? Is that the invitation to the Growers Mineral Solutions soil seminar in New Weston? Dec. 18? How could I have missed that? What is this doing way down here?

So I have to break the cycle. This year I must maintain a state of constant office organization. The key will be to clean the desk after finishing each assignment. Write the blog and clean up the blog writing materials. Write the Internet story and get rid of the notes and releases. RSVP to the banquet and throw away the invitation – after I make a note on the calendar. Read the page proofs and – well, actually the page proofs are on the computer. So all I have to do is clean them out of the computer. While I am at it I might look through some of those emails. It says I have 6789.  And I should reorganize my photo files. Now computer organization is a whole different topic. Or is it? No, I guess it’s all part of office organization. This is going to be tough year, I can tell already. Where did I put that coupon?