Office 4: The Other Desk

What I’m coming to realize is that it’s not the fifteen minute idea that’s cleaning up around here, although I think that’s a good idea, it’s that I have to post every day on it. The urge to wander off and do something else is huge, but I have to post so . . .

It’s really all of you reading this, not the fifteen minutes. If I thought nobody was looking, I’d be watching TV right now.

Still here, huh? Okay, today’s job is The Other Desk, the one I use to spread notes out on and whatever else I need more surface for. Except, of course, I haven’t seen the surface for awhile. And there are four shelves underneath for stuff, but this time I can’t remember what they were for. So it will be a great adventure:


Actually, the shelves behind it are organized, so it’s just the desk top and the four shelves underneath. But it’s gonna take longer than fifteen minutes. That damn window seat was close to two hours by the time I went through all the papers there. And threw them out. I couldn’t believe the stack of notes I had from writing Agnes. So I did the same thing here. Lots of blank journals–they’re like black pens, I swear–books, I’d shoved here, organizer boxes that belonged on the shelves I couldn’t get to because of the stacks of stuff on the desk–but basically it was stuff I had that I didn’t put away, just shoved on the desk. So that has to stop. And now it looks like this:


Which means I can go watch TV now. Tomorrow, it’s back to the floor.

42 thoughts on “Office 4: The Other Desk

  1. This is very inspirational. It makes moving into my new digs seem insignificant in comparison.

    To aid in your accountability inspired motivation, I will be checking in everyday to day 12 to see how the situation progresses.

    Viva la clean office!

  2. I’m starting to have serious office envy. Your furniture is gorgeous, the office is gorgeous, Wolfie is gorgeous. And an Aeron (which will be my present to myself when I sell a book ).

    I’ve gotten inspired myself – thanks for the reminder of the Flylady, tackle it a bit at a time theory. I’ve done my desk and my ottoman/coffee table. Today, perhaps the unearthing of the top of the TV cabinet. Which will then mean that I’ll have to move onto the spare room. Eeek. Maybe the book mountain in my bedroom would be easier.

    Don’t stop, you’re inspiring a fellow Virgo : )

  3. The 2nd desk is AWESOME. The thing I like that FlyLady says is “does it make you smile?” … and now I walk around my house asking myself if I NEED that, because it will make me smile? If MY desk were clean, it would make me smile. I realized that when I looked at your clean desk picture. Guess I have to look at what all that stuff IS on my desk now.

  4. But what are you doing with the stuff that was on the desk? Surely you didn’t throw all of it out.

  5. The first thing I noticed in both pictures was the pair of Ritas.Really made me smile and I had nothing to do with you winning them.

  6. I love seeing your progress – thanks for sharing.

    And, the Coke girl placard with the “YES” delights me. We should all say yes to the universe more often.

  7. I’m late coming into this, because of a new job, but I LOVE reading about this! I’m a big fan of Flylady, and I really enjoy seeing how you make your plan, how you change your plan, but how you stick with something and are getting something done everyday. It’s really inspiring — my office looks just about like your before pictures, and if you can do this, I can do this. (-: I’ll have to stick to 15 minutes a day, though, so I’ll have to call mine The Month of Emulation.

    Keep up the good work! You can do this!

    And thanks for sharing.

  8. Definitely feeling inspired by visiting your website, Jenny and seeing what you’re achieving. Yesterday, I decluttered one desk, rediscovered my dining room table so we ate at it last night, cleaned the oven, vacuumed, and mopped. and I posted the before pic to my blog, but not the after photo. More housework than I’d usually do in a month, in a couple of hours. I also made myself a To Do list before I left work on Friday for the weekend and so far I’ve crossed 4 things off it. Mind you this is all in avoidance of item number 8 – work on synopsis. And I also finished reading Welcome to Temptation and realised I’ve got to read Faking It again.

  9. Micki’s right. Your work ethic and follow-through are awesome.

    I worry about your throwing out notes & things, though. Doesn’t your alma mater bug you for that stuff?

  10. Nice job. I don’t know why you cleaning up your desk encourages me but it does. It’s sort of like watching those home shows about cleaning, but more pleasant. No guilt-tripping someone out of things they really love.

    In the first shot your wall looks a warm golden color, and in the second shot it looks a cool blue or maybe shadowy white. Is it just a lighting change?

  11. We’re still reading.

    There’s something so fascinating about other people’s housekeeping process, I swear.

    Maybe I can get our digital camera fixed and do this on my own blog, if you’re finding it so motivating. Except then my mother would see it. Urgh.

  12. I would like to offer to help. Open the big window and throw the discards out there. All the things ….NOTES ON AGNES for instance, that YOU don’t want.

    Then all of us will sort through the treasures and share with each other. Your readers are polite, a little noisy, but polite.
    We won’t bother you, because you are doing such a good job…we’ll just be the sorters.

    LOVE, love seeing the RITA’s. I nominate AATHM for the next one.

  13. It’s beautiful. Is that an armadillo by the lamp?

    My diningroom is my dumping ground. I’ll start Monday on it.

    Thanks for the kick in the rear.

  14. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I’m going to need it to tackle all the stuff still on the floor.

    As for the stuff on the desk, if I had a place and a use for it, I put it in its place. If I didn’t, I threw it out. I’ve taken huge garbage bags of stuff out of here.

    One Rita is from 1995 for Getting Rid of Bradley and the other is from 2005 for Bet Me. Watch out for me in 2015, assuming I’m still writing by then.

    Yes, I’m throwing out papers. What my alma mater doesn’t know won’t hurt it.

    The walls are white. Porter Paints Cloud White, to be specific.

    Yes, that’s the armadillo that Lisa Kleypas gave me, and I will keep it forever because she made me cry when she gave it to me. Lisa is wonderful.

    And I love the Coke Yes Girl, too. Even if she is saying yes to a phallic Coke bottle. Or maybe BECAUSE she’s saying yes to a phallic Coke bottle.

  15. Great, great job! I am seriously impressed that you are sticking to it. I know the lure of things like tv when trying to make yourself do things like this.

    If I might ask, where did you get your desks?

  16. You so rock Jenny! Now you’re starting to make me feel guilty that my office looks like yours used to. Guilt is a good motivator for me. Keep it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I am so glad you decided to do this and share with us. You have no idea how much stuff I went through today. I was sorting before, but in a very desultory fashion. Now, I am just jazzed to be gettin through stuff. It may only be the frist big sort – go through immediately, keep and go through later, shred – but it’s not a thing I ordinarily spend much time on, or not willingly. ;+)

    You are a goddess and a good example, too. What more can you ask for in a best selling author. I’m so glad that first Rita is for GRoB. I love that book! Love it! And of course you’ll still be writing in 2015, but we all know you’ll be getting another Rita before then, so cut out the self-doubt. ;+)

  18. Good job! I always tidy up my office as a displacement activity – you know, when I’d rather be ironing or dusting than writing. Now I don’t feel so guilty about it… ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Jenny, I’m very impressed. And yep, if you don’t post there’ll be a LOT of us on here letting you we remember. Me, I reckon you’re allowed a day off in the middle. Just warn us in advance so we know the floor didn’t get you.

    I need to introduce my DH to Flylady. He doesn’t seem to believe in 15 minute bursts. ๐Ÿ™ We moved a few weeks ago and spent 7 hours today cleaning and sorting the garage. AAARGH.

  20. I have to tell you, JC, that this idea has been an inspiration.

    So far:
    14 bags of books to library for their book sale (none of them Crusie or Crusie/Mayer)
    I bag of books to take to work for freebies
    Washed Depression glassware that was sitting on the bottom shelf of bookcase (cat hair!!) and displayed it in another bookcase (empty shelves because of getting rid of 15 bags of books)
    Rearranged witch collection and top of Gettysburg bookcase
    Got a back ache ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Still have much to do.
    But a wise person once said: Life work is never finished until you die.

    Packed away stuff I know longer want/need/use

  21. It seems so unfair–you’re doing all the work and we’re being entertained. But wait, that’s the way it is with your books, too. So, not so unfair.

    And you _are_ inspiring us. (As always.)

    My office currently contains all the STUFF required to sell at antique shows…scarcely any room left for the mess. But I’ll go spend 15 minutes on it anyway.

  22. Way to go Jenny. As you can see from our comments you are motivating us as much as we are motivationg you. Your off is looking great.

    Because of your motivation, I was able to actually work at my office desk yesterday. Thank you. Now to clean off the surface where the printer sits. Have to do it today because DH is here and most of the mess is his so need his input on where to put it.

  23. I’m feelling so VIRTUOUS reading the comments, inspiring you all. Then I look at the kitchen, the living room, the studio and think, If they only knew.

    The desks are from Target online. As I remember they were $199 each. And the bookcases–not the ones in these pictures–were $99 each. I left them in the breakfast nook when I moved the office. The bookcases here are from West Elm. (I do all my furniture shopping on the internet.) The finish isn’t great, I’ve already worn the white paint off the front of these and stained the tops, but they also come in black. I just wanted something brighter to bounce light, not absorb it. And I love the open shelves and how plain they are. Not a fan of drawers.

  24. The part of “Clean Sweep” that I loved (before I got too cheap to pay for extended cable channels) was the moment of epiphany when the homeowner finally realized he/she didn’t really need all that stuff, that it was weighing him/her down, and it was mostly the tangible manifestation of some unresolved issue, and he/she faced down that issue, and all of a sudden, the most adamant “I need that” packrat was ready to get rid of every single molecule of stuff in the house and probably would have thrown out the clothes on their back if anyone asked them to. It always left me with the certainty that the clutter wouldn’t come back when the organizing crew left.

    I’m getting that same vibe here.

  25. Jenny,
    When you furniture shop online, does anything come already assembled? Since my daughter moved to Seattle, I have no one to put stuff together for me. Oh, well, I could bribe my exhusband but the last time he tried to do that I thought he would need another frigging bypass.

    Right now I’m planning to get a Cracker Barrel rocker because: no assembly required and it will fit into the back of my “little hearse” – black PT Cruiser.

  26. Black PT Cruiser? Go, Mitzi! Still lugging WWPs out of the garage and down to the recycle bin.

    Part of this is the season. It’s not the new year, but it always feels like the new year in September. And in October, the idea fairy lands, bringing excellent stuff I don’t deserve. Going to garage now. Cat is so tired of my moving her world around.

    Rock on, Ms. Crusie.

  27. You have totally inspired me to tackle the kitchen counter today. I haven’t been able to see the top of it in forever (I totally blame my husband, because it’s so much easier).

  28. Ok Jenny, you got me.

    I’ve gone to the Flylady site. I set the timer for 15 minutes in the kitchen and darn if I didn’t accomplish something. I’m shining the sink now. So it takes two hours to clean the sink, it’ll be cleaner now than when I had people cleaning for me. Another 15 minutes in the kitchen and I think the kitchen will be done…Wow.

  29. Awesome work! You just need to move every three years as we do. That takes care of clutter quickly. They pack it in boxes and I leave the boxes in the basement.

    Of course, in the meantime, I keep spreading my desks out over several rooms. Buy a bigger house? “G”

  30. Erk! Did someone mention throwing out clothes? ::swoon:: ::thud!::

    Y’mean these some deep psychological meaning behind me keeping that tailor-made black leather mini-skirt from Life Before Children? and all those cute tiny sized dresses and tops?

    I think I’d rather clean my office again.

  31. I was reading your post and suddenly heard gospel music. I almost took it as a sign that I should start cleaning.

    Then I realized the neighbors had their music too loud.

    After banging on the wall a few times (who needs music THAT LOUD on a Sunday afternoon?) I’ve settled back in to my weekend activity of watching Top Model reruns and rereading Going Postal in anticipation of TP’s new book.

    Life is good.

  32. Its a mixture of inspiration and guilt I think. Whatever it is it’s working on me too. I’ve been too sleep deprived up until now to be motivated beyond making sure I have clean clothes; but I feel a bubble of ambition coming on. Any minute now. Yep.

  33. Your second desk just looks warm and inviting, with the Coke girl, the Sharpies, the pretty lamp, and the blue paisley boxes, the collages and the beautiful Rita’s crowning everything. Yay you!

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