Our Desk of Perpetual Sorrow


In our old house, I had a tiny desk. I used an antique secretary as my desk, so once I put my widescreen laptop on it there was barely room for a book beside it (this is why I started using my fabulous messy notebooks).

I knew I wanted to do better in the new house, and had room to do better in the new house, so I think the first piece of furniture we bought after moving in was a huge, glass-topped, L-shaped corner desk for me. It’s a thing of beauty, with lots of space for projects, books, etc.

It also has no drawers.

A secretary is pretty much nothing but drawers, so you can see where I might have a storage problem.

Of course it isn’t just that.

messy desk
Behold my messy desk. And surrounding environs.

I am a stacker from way back, as you can see from this image of what my desk area usually looks like. I love a clean desk — especially because that long side is so good for projects — but I can usually keep it clear for a couple of days, only to mess it all up again by starting a stack here or referencing a book and putting it there instead of back on the shelf.

Thus the above isn’t so much a problem of organizing as it is a problem of putting things away.

I totally get that.

So this is not a post about organizing; it’s about maintaining the clean, organized space that makes you so happy and functional. About keeping the world looking more like this

cleaner desk
My desk after 45 minutes of cleanup. And starting a new project.

or even better and less like that picture at the top. Maybe if I talk it through it’ll stick for me, too.

Daily Habits

I know that what I need to do — and what you need to do, too, if you have a space like this that seems to magically get messy — is to pay attention to it every day. Just like I said I needed to pay attention to that kitchen counter every day after breakfast, I need to take the time to put things where they go in my office before I leave for the day.

This is a simple thing that would probably only take a couple of minutes a day if I did it consistently, and it would save me from having to do the 45-minute cleanup once a month or whenever I got sick of it.

A huge thing I do, because my office is upstairs, is that I tend to leave dirty dishes and empty glasses on my desk, which is another easy thing to fix on a daily basis.

Project Space

I love using my desk for projects. The long side has a window behind it, so there’s good light, and there’s lots of space when it’s cleared off. As you’ll notice, my sewing machine lives down there because that’s the best place in the house to keep it, but it would be better if it could be out of the way (my long-term goal is to put a table under the shelves you can see hanging on the wall to the left of the desk, but I have to clear out the space under there first!).

So as I write this, and as you can see a little in my after picture, there’s a painted canvas on the desk right now. On the desk in front of my monitor is a bunch of paper and a couple of books (and until a few minutes ago when I picked it up, there were yarn samples, too) because I’m working on the planning and yarn requests for my latest book.

I don’t really want to put either of these projects away because I know I’ll be back into them either later tonight or tomorrow, and it seems like wasted effort to find another place to store these when they’ll be gone soon. In this case I’ll just make everything as neat as possible and make sure it goes away as soon as I’m done with it.

The No-Drawer Dilemma

The lack of drawer space is still a problem for me. I bought a little tray organizer to hold things like tape, my calculator, sticky notes, lotion and paperclips, but it’s overflowing with all the little things that would be in a drawer if I had a drawer.

Likewise I don’t have a place to put little bits of paper that I want to keep handy but don’t need to be seeing all the time. I keep those things tucked under the monitor, but it’s still visual clutter that probably doesn’t need to be there.

I’m thinking of getting a little set of plastic drawers on wheels for this sort of thing that I could tuck under my desk. I could also make a file in the file box that sits on my desk all the time anyway and just know that’s where my current papers live. I’m not sure of the solution on that one yet.

Does anyone else have a desk with no drawers? How do you keep it organized? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing!

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