A Clean Desk Is the Best Performance-Enhancer Ev. Er / by Dana Wood

I'm dating myself, but sometimes I feel like the super-spiffy, freshly showered version of Pig-Pen, the charming dirt ball from The Peanuts who leaves a cloud of dust in his wake.

Dust isn't my jam, but here's what I do trail behind me: Piles and piles of press releases I print out - repeatedly - while I'm writing stories. Trillions of itsy bitsy scraps of paper with like one URL or flash of Dana Brilliance scribbled upon them. Pages ripped from magazines + catalogs that I intend to file at some point in the (very) far-off future.

Want to know what's even worse than all the mayhem I generate? I share my home office with my husband, who is perhaps the most organized individual to walk this fine Earth. Seriously, you should see the meticulous notebooks he keeps of Important Business Matters.

Nothing I do is Important. As a Beauty + Wellness writer, I traffic in fluff. I spend my days researching cures for frizz, and pondering whether spider veins in fact do improve with dry-brushing.

But I could get better at Fluff Execution, no? And, really, shouldn't I get better at Fluff Execution? I'm primarily paid by the story, blog post, project. If I cranked out more stories, blog posts, projects, I'd make more dough. 

More dough would be good.

More dough is always good. 

Which leads me to a recent desk clear-off and how it has so positively impacted my work week that I've no choice whatsoever but to keep at it.

I have a lot going on right now. I'm prepping for a lecture on fashion photography that I'm giving at The Dali next week. I just filed my sixth piece this year for The Wall Street Journal, so I'm awaiting edits on that. I'm revamping / rebranding my Momover website and developing a new site with a partner that I'm super-excited about. Plus there are two other projects brewing, but I don't want to jinx myself by going public about those just yet.

With so much percolating - and so many clients + editors counting on me to deliver the goods - I need a clear head. And for me, that means a work space that's stripped of pretty much everything except the project I'm tackling at that precise moment.

When the piles of s--t are sky-high, and deadlines are looming, I freak-out a little and have to default to the Office Shove. The Office Shove is similar to the Party Shove I often do prior to entertaining at home. In the run-up to having guests over, I clean, clean, clean like a banshee, but there's always a pile or three of mail + miscellany that gets  tossed in a shopping bag at the last minute and stashed in a closet.

Frequently I find these shopping bags months later, and it's like a crazy archeological dig. So that's where my last issue of Porter scampered off to...

When we were on vacation this past July, zipping back and forth between London and Paris on the Eurostar, I read a kick-ass little e-book entitled "My Desk Is Driving Me Crazy: End Overwhelm, Do Less, and Accomplish More" by a professional organizer + life coach type named Sue Rasmussen. 

Sue's ideas are radical with a capital R. She basically advocates dropping waaaaay off the grid, and ignoring a massive chunk of the outside world. Just Do You, she says, and don't let everyone else have a say in how you structure your day. Fascinating. I so loved reading all that, because I know I'm happiest when I'm in my own Barbie Bubble, and not mired in full-on FOMO.

But circling back to the ostensible point of this blog post - desk-clearing and its happy effects on productivity - I intend to re-read the "Clutter Tries to Trick You" section of Sue's book. 

She's really on her readers to dig deeper, and realize that you'll be just fine if you don't hang on to all that stuff.  

I can let it go - into the trash bin - and have confidence that when and if I ever need all that bric-a-brac that's chewing up both desk space and a chunk of my peace of mind, I'll get it back again.

Letting go. Having confidence. I'm guessing it beats the hell out of the Office Shove.






I excel at both: Working + Partying.

I excel at both: Working + Partying.