04 November 2009

The Office of Slack

Rachel's office, before

The fact that I am a slacker may not be evident immediately upon entering my home. With a minimalist decor, my house generally looks fairly tidy (could I use any more qualifiers in that sentence?). But, deep in the bowels of my home lies my office. And then my inner slacker-dom is glaringly evident.

My office being a cesspool has been true in every home I've had an office in. My office in my last house was a coat closet that just fit a large desk, which was usually shit piled. Despite the fact that I enjoy order in other parts of my home, I am able to function just fine thank you at a desk surrounded by chaos. I just focus on the task directly in front of me and ignore the rest.

In my new home (as of six years ago) I upgraded to a walk-in closet for an office. Because it is the only office space in the house, it it where all our office equipment lives, as well as homeschool supplies (that sit collecting dust), piles of paperwork from a job I no longer hold, toys, games, books, photos, children's artwork. It generally looks like where secretaries go for eternity when they get booted from heaven.

When it has been my turn for Cleaning Club, I mentally scroll through possible projects in advance, often landing first on something that seems do-able. Then I force myself to think about what I really DON'T want to do, that thing that keep jumping up with its hand raised going oh! me! me! me!--clean under my bed, tackle closets that would make Martha Stewart have a seizure, that kind of thing--and after telling that thing to shut up several times I finally go oh ok fine! And that's when I know I have a project that truly needs doing.

My office had been that project on my list a few times, but I'd dismissed it as too big, too gruesome, too hard. This week, though, I decided to just jump in and at least get started. Then I broke out in a cold sweat.

Game shelf, before

The thing is, I often underestimate what we can accomplish in a short amount of time, and I wondered with one clubber down--Shannon was home with the lame excuse of having just crammed an eight pound body through her delicate lady parts--what we could do. But, Jennifer and I jumped in to tackle the hell-hole nonetheless.

We took everything off a big set of shelves that housed kids games and activities. We put random pieces where they belonged, and got rid of a few (good-bye Cooties! You soul sucking creatures will not be missed!). We moved the shelves out of my office and in to my den, and rearranged all the games and puzzles on it. We pulled everything from the floor of my office out into the den. (A bonus from this is the ability to inflict your nostalgia on your friends in the process. Oh look, a collection of my poetry from high school! And this? This is an original copy of the first Ms. magazine? Impressed? Awwww, look at this cute picture!)

Game shelf, after

We took out a big piece of broken plastic that was supposed to facilitate my office chair freely rolling in and out from my desk, but since breaking into pieces, had only served to catch my chair wheel (and often my poor pinky toe) making me push even harder to get the hell out from behind my desk, and then sending large pieces of plastic soaring about on a windstream of profanity. We vacuumed the newly clean floor, discarded the chipped up plastic, and moved a small bookshelf into the corner. With everything deposited all over my once tidy den, Jennifer went home.

Rachel's office, after

I will say, that this is unusual. In fact, unprecedented. We usually don't leave until the project is done. These were extreme circumstances, though, and we had accomplished what I had set out to accomplish in that session. The rest was up to me. But a strange thing happens in the Cleaning Club vortex, known by scientists as The Cleaning Club Effect. Once you are empowered by what you can accomplish, you ride that high for a few hours and no beast is any match for you. The beast had been immobilized, now it was time to go in for the kill. I tackled the shelving up high in the room that had previously been under a sort of Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. I won't look at you, and you will pretend not to exist. Shining light into this dark corner was to open Pandora's Box. Brazen from my earlier victory, I pressed on. I discarded. I reorganized. I moved. And, eventually, I'd done it!


Over the course of the rest of the day I processed through the contents of my office and den and filled my trash can and recycling container, cleaned off and organized my desktop and shelves. Now, as I write this, I'm sitting in a space that actually feels spacious and organized. An office that for the first time ever feels intentional. And the extension of the Cleaning Club Effect is that not only does it empower me to tackle and follow through on what seemed an insurmountable task, but it often has unforeseen emotional benefits. I feel different in this space. My space makes me feel more like a grown-up; makes my work feel more valued. The process wasn't just an exercise in organization, but one that made my inner slacker feel a little less slack.


Jennifer said...

I *LOVE* getting to look at old stuff. It gives me a glimpse of your life from before I knew you and I love that.

And I also love that you are reclaiming this as an intentional and productive space now that it is purged of so many negative forces that were pulling you down. I keep picturing you sitting in there all powerful and happy :)

Hazel Ruthie said...

Awwww....Poor pinky toe.....

Nelson Drinnon said...

Cleaning that must have taken up a lot of time. But still good to see that you have managed to clean it up nicely. I think I'll clean my home office at once, then probably plan my own schedules on where and when to start anew.

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