A Few of My Favorite Things—Bookshelves and Office Supplies

When I was a kid, I was a disorganized mess. I would throw things anywhere, often to never be found again. When it came time for locker clean-out in school people were amazed at how much could fit in one tiny locker. When I left for college it took my parents days to clean out my bedroom so that my brother could move in.

I can’t pinpoint when, but at some point, all that changed. Now, I keep an extremely organized house. I can find a document from any class I have taken in the past three years in minutes—in either hard or soft copy. After all those years of being the queen of clutter, I can no longer stand disorganization. Those that knew me in my younger years are shocked; I did a total turnaround.

And then we decided to get rid of my desk.

I had a great desk. It was huge, with a lot of drawers and a huge work area (five feet wide and two and a half feet deep). I loved that desk, and it got me through school. Unfortunately, it was too big for our small house and I really didn’t match anything. Pookie hated it. So, we made a deal. He would replace my desktop with a brand-new laptop of my choosing and we would get rid of the desk. I jumped at the opportunity.

So the plan was that I would work at the dining room table. I kept my desk chair and moved one of the matching chairs to our 2-month-old dining set. I had even more room to work. It was great—until I needed to use the table for actual dining.

I was so used to having everything close that it all sat around me on the table and on the ledge between the living room and dining room. It was disorganized. It drove me nuts!

Then I remembered that I still had the old desk stored in the garage. So, I told Pookie I couldn’t handle the disorganization any longer, and I needed it back. His face fell. It was like I crushed his dreams and stole his puppy. He was afraid to make eye contact, but did manage a whisper to ask if I would give him the weekend to come up with a better solution.

Being (somewhat) reasonable, I agreed. He searched the house for something that would help me to be better organized. When that failed, he resorted to the Internet, where he finally found the solution.

He bought a $20 bookcase that comes to the bottom of the ledge in the dining room. It sits next to my old desk chair, and contains all of my writing books, my pencil caddy, notebooks, four inbox trays, and a few sets of clear plastic drawers. It matches the furniture we already have (which I love), and it keeps me from needing the desk (which makes for a happy hubby). It looks like it was made for the room (and that wall).  It was perfect!

Unfortunately, organizing all of the rest of my things simply made me more aware of how disorganized I was with the information I have complied for my WIP. I have no room in my dining room/office for a cork board, so I couldn’t use that approach. Instead, I had pages upon pages of stuff, some handwritten, some typed, but nothing with any organization at all. Some pages were in a notebook, some in a binder, some saved on my computer but never printed. Some were even on Post-it Notes.

I realized that I needed a centralized, well-planned and organized place for everything so I could stop sorting through the eight different places I may have put that character profile I needed. So, taking my inspiration from Kaye, I went a got a new binder—a pretty blue-green binder to match my beach-themed novel. I got more divider tabs. I raided my closet of office supplies, and pulled out post-it tabs, highlighters, sheet protectors, hole punches and filler paper.

I spent the weekend organizing. I typed things that were hand written. I organized and classified. I figured out what I was missing.

So, I go into this week with a very full binder with just about everything I need for my current WIP right at my fingertips and a bullet-point list of what I still need. For the first time since I agreed to my new work area, I feel organized and ready to tackle the world. And it is a great feeling, especially for a Monday. 🙂

What are your organizational challenges? Do you have any tricks to help you stay organized and on track? Can you tune out clutter in your workspace, or do you need to feel organized in order to be most productive? And do you need to match your binder color to the theme of your book, or am I just insane? (Wait, don’t answer that!)

About Susi Borath

Susi Borath finds time to write between freelance marketing jobs, minor league baseball games, creating new cookie recipes, and juggling more laundry than any two people should be able to produce. You can find more about her at http://susiborath.com or follow @susiborath on Twitter.
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7 Responses to A Few of My Favorite Things—Bookshelves and Office Supplies

  1. Lisa Kramer says:

    I love office supplies! My organizational challenge is that I can never settle on one form of organization. I start one way, and then change it a month later, until I am satisfied. Which I never am. And every time I make a new attempt at organization I have to buy new supplies that match whatever I’m working on/feeling/ thinking at the moment. So . . um. . . yeah it might be a form of insanity, but it is who I am. 😉

    • Savana Quinn says:

      I tend to do the same thing. With this book, I was determined to use little notebooks and binders because they would be more portable. Unfortunately, I also needed more of them. I had too much stuff to fit all in one mini-binder, so I ended up with everything everywhere.

      Luckily, when I was in school I took a lot of online courses which forced me to find a single way of organizing. I mimicked that this weekend, and I am really happy with the results. Granted, it has only been a few days. We’ll see if I am still saying that three weeks from now! 🙂

  2. Kaye Peters says:

    Oh, insanity is fun, isn’t it? When I was younger I worked in a library, then during college I was at Blockbuster. It is ingrained in me to alphabetize, color coordinate and have a place for everything.

    Unfortunately, like you, I have my dining room table as my desk. And instead of paperclips, highlighters, notebooks and pens as desk clutter, I have naked Barbies, used tissues and play food. Which only brings my organizational side forward even more.

    This past Saturday I spent the afternoon wandering around Staples, I was in Heaven. I still can’t get over the fact that Sparky let me go – which after looking at the bill, he probably won’t let me go by myself again. Getting organized is fun and helps with productivity in the long run.

    • Savana Quinn says:

      Getting organized is fun. Fortunately, once I take the time to get organized, I am pretty good at keeping up with it. So, I am hoping this is a good start, especially since I am organizing now for all 3 book in the series I am attempting to write.

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    I think ALL writers are addicted to office supplies, which is funny because most of us look at them but don’t use them. (Really…I’ve asked around on this one.) They’re like food in the pantry in that they make us feel better “just in case” we want to make a binder/storyboard/writing collage.

    About once a year I go through my scores of pens, highlighters, staplers, index cards, binder clips and thumb tacks and put together a raffle basket for our monthly drawing. The other writers in my chapter always vie for it…and the addiction moves onward!

    • Lisa Kramer says:

      😀 LOL

    • Savana Quinn says:

      You are better than me. I have a 6-foot closet filled with office supplies, and I can’t part with any of them. In my defense, I also tend to use them regularly. The only reason I have so many is because I buy a lot of them at Sam’s Club.

      But it really is a comfort knowing that they are there. If I start to run low on anything I immediately need to get more, just in case.

      I may have to learn from you soon, though. We are hoping to have to turn our spare bedroom into a nursery in the next year or so. If that happens, I loose my supply closet, and will have to part with a good portion of it. I think it may be a traumatic experience (though I am sure it will be worth it.)

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