Posts Tagged ‘desk’

My Desk: The Final Frontier

After all my blogging, errr, bragging, okay bloviating about my clean desk earlier this fall, I confess I let it slowly slide back into a slovenly mess, starting around fall break, when my docking station (and monitor) crashed.  Day by day, the detritus built back up a little at a time (I think the paper critters breed at night when we’re asleep.)  You can say it – you knew it all along, didn’t you? When I stopped the weekly updates, that was the beginning of the end.  It was indeed.

But the perfect storm brewed today:  a missing bill, the approaching holidays and getting the tree up in the bonus room swirled around me until I finally took time to whip it back into shape.  And now, with heartfelt apologies to Johnny Nash, my clean desk put me in mind of his single, “I Can See Clearly Now”…with a twist.

I can see clearly now, the clutter’s gone,
I can see all the projects lined out for me…
Gone is the junk mail that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sunshine-y day.

I think I can make it now, the catalogs are filed,
All the expired coupons have disappeared
Here is the tidiness I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sunshine-y day.

Look all around, there’s nothin’ but clear desk
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but clear deskkkkkkkkkk….

I can see clearly now the clutter’s gone,
I can see all the dates on my calendar…
Gone is the tower of papers that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sunshine-y day.

Admit it – you’re humming, aren’t you?  Not sure it’s gonna be a sunshine-y day, but there’s a little ray of sunshine beaming down on my clear desk blotter right now.  Because I found the bill.  And I still have a few days to get it paid. Ahhhhhh.

Happy organizing

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So here I was, merrily cruising along, patting myself on the back for maintaining an organized desk (for two months and counting!) Okay, so the last couple of days have been a little less-than-organized, but the chaos was quickly brought back under control before I took this shot today:

And then I read this post from Lifehacker.com and suddenly I’m second-guessing myself.  Is the desk merely “clean” or is it organized?  Talk about bursting my bubble.  But in my defense, I did clear out all the extra pens, post-it-notes and other detritus back when I first got serious about this project back in late July.

Actually, the Lifehacker post on singletasking  (which included the link to REALLY organizing your workspace) was what first hit home with this dyed-in-the-wool adherent to multitasking.  There are some salient points made in the article, and if I’m honest, my own experience bears witness to how much more effective I am when I don’t try to check Facebook, my blog, reply to email and work messages while simultaneously uploading pictures and editing or writing – and scarfing down lunch.  It all gets done, but usually with a certain amount of heartburn, both figurative and literal.

Just don’t quibble with my ability to make coffee, bake biscuits, feed the dog, unload the dishwasher, and start dinner in the slow cooker all at once.  Fully caffeinated, I am a force to be reckoned with in the mornings, if only for a few spectacular moments.

Happy tasking (in whatever modality you choose)!

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Clean Desk Mission: Week 7

Back in the day, photos (and their negatives) were purely physical things.  You had to buy film, use the entire roll, then get the pictures developed, sorted out and stored in albums (keepers) or boxes (rejects and duplicates.)  The ratio of good shots to “meh” shots has always been somewhere around 1:10 (maybe that’s just my photography skills) but I have boxes of “also-ran” images to testify as to this phenomenon – I have no idea why we I keep blurry, off-center and just plain bad pictures, but we I did – and do.

In the digital era, the entire photo process is now vastly different.  Bad shots can be instantly retaken, or enhanced, cropped, focused and otherwise electronically corrected.  No more developing an entire roll of film to get a few good pictures – now we cherry pick those that we want or need an actual printed photograph, and print them ourselves or upload them to a photo center for nearly instantaneous printing.

Perhaps because I am a product of the earlier generation, I still have trouble discarding bad or duplicate images, even though I have no monetary or even sentimental investment in them. I’m slowly getting better at culling out the truly bad pictures, just because their sheer volume makes it difficult to sort through my files.  But my computer system is so thoughtful it creates its own filing system (by date) for me.  And so I find myself with a picture file that looks like this:

And as the little “elevator bar” to the right hints, this is just the tip of the ugly photo file iceberg.  Hundreds of folders, some with dozens of photos, some with only one or two, arranged only by date.

Since my desk is still tidy, it seemed like a good time to turn my attention on my electronic filing system and do some major organizing there, too.  A few hours of work, and the files now look like this:

There are two remaining (and important) steps to finish this project. One is to go through the exported file folders and the photos on my flash drive files, and get all the pictures in one central location (and backed up); then go through each folder and cull out the remaining bad shots that I’m never going to need, want, use, or even think about again.

But I’m happy to report I’m at least one step closer to reaching that peak of photo organization nirvana, since I now have a framework of file organization that I can work with.  And I didn’t even have to blow the dust off any boxes in the process.  Score one for technology!

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Clean Desk Misson: Week 6

So here’s my desk, still clean.  I even updated the blotter to September on the last day of August.  My ever-ready sunglasses and coffee mug are always waiting to jet out with me in the mornings.

….and here’s what else showed up on my desk this week: 

 Yep, three new pairs of sunglasses.  They are props for our intrepid FBI (Faithful Bible Investigator) agents, so they can take MIB-esque mugshots for their photo ID badges.  (Which turned out GREAT – it’s amazing how sophisticated these 3rd, 4th and 5th graders can look when they put on the shades and strike a serious pose.)  The sunglasses will remain on standby for a few weeks while we get any straggler photos taken.  And then I’ll have to find a place to store them.

The desk got a heavy workout this past week.  Once my replacement toner arrived, it became a frenzy of printing:  Kindergarten coloring pages, FBI background check sheets and other paperwork to augment the purchased curriculum, and a few new recipes to try.  But so far, the combination of ruthlessly sorting the mail each day and putting everything away at the end of the day have yielded good results.  Time to move on…I think I can now rely on my newly formed habit to keep the desk maintained.

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Clean Desk Mission: Week 5

It looks like I have passed the one-month milestone for a clean desk.  How is it looking?  Well, here it is today.

Yes, the inbox is getting a little full.  Thanks for pointing that out.  One of today’s missions is to tackle it and get it back under control before it gets any messier, then dust the desk.

And so you know the “rest of the story” (with apologies to the late Paul Harvey), here’s the stack of stuff that is currently piled on the floor next to my desk.

I don’t count it as part of the desk, because it is not allowed ON the desk.  But it needs to be dealt with ASAP.  What is it?  Well, it’s the leftover kindergarten curriculum printouts from a project I’m wrapping up this week; new curriculum for our 3rd-5th graders (classes start next Wednesday – woohoo!); a binder full of youth ministry forms that I need to sort and organize and give to our youth minister next Tuesday; a box of plastic sheet protectors for a recipe project I’ve got goin’ on; and unsorted mail from yesterday.  (Oooh, is that a new Better Homes & Gardens issue peeking out? I guess that will be my reward for culling through the pile today.)

My little green orphan doodad has not been tossed out, as threatened.  It’s been joined by a compression fitting.  Like the green thingamajig, I have no clue what it goes to or who put it here, (but at least know what  it is.)  Wonder what cute little offspring these two might morph up?  If I leave them alone overnight, I might find out…

I can’t brag about my stupendous photo file organizing efforts; too many other urgent things took priority this week.  But there’s always next week, right?

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Clean Desk Mission: Day 28

Twenty-eight days.  Four full weeks…almost a full month.   I haven’t dusted it in a month, though – ewww.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I did have a slip-up this week.  As I laid my weary head on my pillow Tuesday night, I realized I had left piles o’stuff.  The horror!  My eyes flew open and I very nearly crawled out of bed to go straighten everything up, but it was midnight and I figured it could wait six hours.  To be honest, I was a little pouty when I faced a less-than-crisp and clean surface the next morning; I’ve grown accustomed to having a clean desk greet me each and every morning.

But my workspace was bound for more messiness anyway, with lots of writing and editing to do this week.  And that means lots of piles of this ‘n’ that scattered here and there and everywhere, all day long.  However, since the desk is staying relatively clean, it seems rather pointless to continue to dwell on its cleanliness (or even its dustiness) each week.

So let’s talk virtual file organization.  How ’bout them computer files?   Okay, let’s take baby steps, and start with photo files. I downloaded the new Picasa 3.8 and I’d like to say I’m having fun playing with the new embedded Picnik photo editing, but I haven’t gotten it to open yet.  (Something tells me my browser settings are at fault.)

I’m also feeling sucked into the Picasa photo-storage vortex, swirling closer and faster to the drain.  The Luddite in me is leery of online photo storage, even though I’ve been using WalMart’s photo center and even SnapFish for more years than I can count.  Part of me just likes having my photos on my hard drive or flash drive (yeah, where they can get sizzled in the flash of a lightning bolt, or accidentally washed and dried to oblivion.  I know, I know.

But I am working hard to get my photos in some semblance of order.  I keep my text files pretty orderly but PIcasa’s folder-naming gizmo does some hinky things now and again, so my photo files are a bit unkempt.  And the bigger they get, the worse they are.  Time to get cracking on them.  Keep your fingers crossed that next Friday’s update allows me to brag on some new, impressive photo filing system I’ve got going on.   Then we can take a road trip to a totally foreign destination:  the land of external hard drive backups.  (Yes, I have one.  And no, I’m not sure exactly how to use it.)

What can I say, except I work without a net.  And sometimes I jump off cliffs. (Don’t tell mom and dad.)

Yes, that was actually a leap, not a fall.  No, despite how it looks, I did not do a face plant in the water but went in feet-first, just like the Navy SEALS say you should.  And yes, I know it is foolish and dangerous to jump 20 feet into a gorge on a mountain stream with barely-submerged rocks only a few feet away.

But in my defense, I wasn’t as crazy as this guy who climbed about 40 feet up a tree to jump into the same area.

However, I guess I have proven that my answer to the age-old question, “If all the other kids were jumping off a cliff, would you?” is yes.  And with that sanity-defying leap of mine, I have had all the summer fun I can possibly stand.  Bring on fall and football! (15 days and counting….)

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Clean Desk Mission: Day 21

I’m probably going to jinx myself here (it is Friday the 13th after all), but the clean desk thing seems to be getting easier over time.  I discovered one of my biggest sources of desk-clogging detritus is the mail.  So if I sort through it immediately and ruthlessly, and deal with the one or two pieces that are keepers, it’s pretty easy.  (Yeah, I know, that’s no big revelation; organization experts have been saying that for years.  Sometimes you gotta discover things for yourself.)

What else takes over and clogs my desk?


That’s right. UFOs.  Unidentified Found Objects.  You know, little bits and pieces of things that no one knows where they came from, where they go, what they belong to, or what to do with them.

What do you do with those things?  Give them to mom.  She’ll know.  She knows everything. She knows where the extra jar of mayonnaise is (pantry, third shelf, to the left.)  She knows if your blue tshirt got washed this week.  (Yes; it’s folded and stacked with your shorts.)  And she knows what every particle in this house IS and what it belongs to.

I submit to you a piece of evidence.  This little doohickey has been lying on my desk for a week now.  I have no idea what it is, besides the obvious – it’s a plastic button from something. We own nothing this shade of green; at least nothing that I am aware of.  It appeared on my desk one day; unclaimed, here it sets. No one knows what it is, where it came from, or who put it here.

I would dust for fingerprints, but I’ve handled it, so the crime scene has been contaminated.  It’s safe as long as it remains solitary, but if it is joined by any other trinket, they will begin to multiply, and then overnight my desk will have a half-dozen baby doodads scattered around.  But as sure as I throw it away, someone will ask me if I’ve seen a little green plastic button.

Last night we had Chicken Cordon Bleu. I had chicken thighs on the menu, but a) I could not find the recipe I planned to use and b) I had lots of breasts and no thighs on hand.  Of course I test drove some of my new pans.  I was a little nervous about the chicken, but I heated and oiled the saute pan just like the cooking video said…and it worked – the chicken did not stick and the brown bits came up as soon as I hit them with chicken stock.  Having a 3-quart saucepan to boil pasta is simply marvelous.  I have no idea how I got by without it for so many years.

I would have to say the chicken recipe fell a little short of my expectations:  the sauce was too thick and the chicken got dried out after the recommended 25 minutes in the oven.  Live and learn:  next time we’ll make more sauce (using a creamier, melt-ier cheese in the sauce, saving the Gruyere to lay on top of the ham) and stick the whole thing under the broiler just long enough to brown and bubble the sauce and cheese.

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