My wife and I went on a cleaning spree last week.
We decided to treat the second-to-last week in December like a spring cleaning day.
We’re pretty tidy people, but dust eventually gathers and sometimes we take a few days and spend a couple hours on each of those days cleaning a room or two.
It always feels good, even though as dry as North Texas can be (and with all the construction happening in the area), some dust seems to be back by the time we sit down to relax after cleaning!
It’s a Good Time to Clean
It always feels great heading into a new year with a clean environment.
This isn’t to say my desktop is spotless — it’s usually piled with work and writing papers. Still, the best thing I did last year was really getting some things organized.
Knowing where important things are keeps my mind focused on writing.
For years, I had files all over the place.
I had multiple copies of insurance paperwork and other things shoved haphazardly in folders that weren’t even labeled. Granted, I had them, but to find something I needed could take half an hour.
One day a couple years ago, I decided to change that, and last year I really got organized. I got rid of old things and was able to take a beat-up filing cabinet weak from being overstuffed to be recycled. (Two drawers worth of paperwork into one with room to grow.)
Once everything was labeled and old papers were shredded, I was finally able to take care of papers as they came in.
Writing receipts are now filed right away. All the other paperwork that comes with being an adult is filed away as well. It took a couple years of tinkering, but I finally found a filing system that works for me.
Being able to find things allows me to write when it’s time to write…not spend the time wondering where some paperwork I need is hidden.
I used to keep my computer’s desktop spotless (with the exception of a couple shortcuts to programs I use often).
The folder containing my writing was stashed away on my hard drive. I got tired of having to go a couple extra steps to get to writing I was working on, so I moved my writing folder to my desktop…along with some other shortcuts and folders.
Soon, my computer’s desktop was as cluttered with piles as my physical desktop.
With my actual desktop, it’s easier to clean (especially now that my filing system works) — but with my computer desktop, I found myself moving so many files around that things were cluttered to the point I had to dig to find them.
After a fairly recent computer issue, I was able to keep things clean again. And I cleaned up files that weren’t on my desktop, too. I consolidated things and renamed files. (If you have trouble finding what version of a story you’re working on, it’s worth the 7 minutes and 40 seconds to give this a listen.)
Not only is backing up your writing easier when all the files are organized, it’s easier to find what you need quickly, even if it’s something you haven’t seen for months.
A Clean Effect on Writing
When I talk about clean, I’m not talking about a spotless writing room. (I know few writers who actually get a lot of writing done in a spotless environment.)
The clean I’m talking about is knowing that the things you need to get work done are where you need them.
I don’t think I could work in Ray Bradbury’s cluttered office, but it’s obviously worked well for him.
When I’m in the middle of a big project, my desk (and sometimes the office floor), is covered in piles of papers.
I know people who do their best work when surrounded by action figures and other collectibles some consider clutter.
If I know where my writing files and physical copies of stories are — if I know that all the other paperwork I need to keep things going is safely filed away — I’m not only more productive because things are organized…I’m more productive because I never have to worry again if something is taken care of or lost.
With those stresses eliminated, I’m free to write with a clean mind.