Sometimes, when you work from home…


you get stuck on this decision: is this work-related or personal?


My work stuff ends up on my desk and my personal stuff ends up on my desk. No right or wrong. It just is. My work “to do” list sits on top of a flyer for a green cleaning service, which is on top of a list of the top SE Asian tech universities, which I used as a coffee coaster. Sorry Suranaree University, you got the worst of it.


Clutter drives me nuts. When I worked more in the office, I prided myself on my organization (and truth be told, I have a collection of notebooks at home, where I file away all my health, home improvement, financial stuff, etc. that would probably shock the hell out of most people). Sometimes I had a small pile of stuff on my desk at work, but it never looked like Staples barfed on my desk. My home office, as of this morning, has become a nightmare. I’m not even going to elaborate on the fact that Jonas peed under my desk (last weekend while I was sick and there was no way I could get out of bed and clean it but it is in fact now not only clean but smelling like “meadow breeze” or something like that) other than to say that my extensive cleaning rituals have served me well in the total removal of dog urine from carpeting. I ordered a black-light so that the search for unidentified tinkle spots can commence. Let’s think of it as a low-stakes game of CSI.


Anyway, this morning I got over asking myself the question of work related/personal and had to admit that the clutter was keeping me from getting stuff done; actual work stuff. And that I actually did spend time cleaning my office at work. And that it’s totally OK to take some time to clean my office at home, even if it means vacuuming in corners, putting the Nordstrom private sale on my calendar, cranking some music and…oh, yeah, ten minutes for dancing (which is now becoming my “feel good” morning ritual, because I feel awesome and obviously, a little funky).


One full day with nothing on my calendar but getting all the paper shizz off my desk, dusting shelves, shredding stuff. No stacks and no guilt.


“You’re old enough boy. Too many summers you’ve enjoyed. So spin the wheel. We’ll set you up with some new convictions.” Which has nothing to do with what I just wrote except that it is playing whilst I clean and I’m singing the “la la la la la” part out loud to my dog (who I totally forgive, I swear).

Comments (4)

  1. crawdad13 says:

    OK, I am completely aware that I am the exact wrong person to criticize anyone about cleaning, clutter or organization, but…a complete day spent "getting all the paper shizz off (your) my desk, dusting shelves, shredding stuff." in only one room is not really ok.  It is obsessive-compulsive.

    I have three offices (let’s not talk about my neurosis and other obvious issues or we’ll be here all day) and even if I had urine covering every square inch I’m pretty sure I couldn’t spend more than three hours cleaning them.

    My sister does the same thing; she spends 12 hours cleaning, which is akin to a vacation for her, then spends another 12 hours congratulating herself for having done something "productive."  NOT EVEN CLOSE

    Feeling good about getting stuff organized is one thing, but not feeling a little ashamed (instead of triumphant) that it got that way in the first place is kinda weird.  Don’t you think that it is more a display of a tendency toward giving your self messes to clean up because the accomplishment of cleaning them is a tangible manifestation of the work you got done at home that day?

    I used to work for a huge company for which I was the very first "remote" worker.  In fact, I wrote the business case for a new product bundle called "work-at-home solutions."  Since then I have learned some things about people who spend most of their time working at home.

    One of the most common things that we do while we are supposed to be working is household chores/home improvement activities.  This is because most of us who sit in front of a computer screen or talk on the phone for a living don’t produce something that we can reach out and touch, see or hold.  We therefor compensate by trying to complete tasks with tangible results.

    The other thing that we do is that we print stuff out and create piles of paper, files full of folders and shelves full of stuff. Thus the clutter.  I am not judging, because even though I realize that this is, subconsciously, the reason why my office is usually messy, I rationalize these bad habit by saying "its just easier to read stuff off paper," or "if I print it out then I can make notes during that meeting…"

    The moral of the story is that the mess (with the possible exception of the dog pee) didn’t get there by accident.  It’s there because you need it to be.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Gee Darren, I don’t know how I get through life without consulting you first. Seriously dude, judgmental much?

    Not that I have to justify it to you, but a lot of the "stuff" I eliminated, I got rid of by doing something with it. I did the same kind of ritual when I had an actual office except this time, nobody stopped by my office to see what is going on and chat or ask me to lunch. If it makes me more productive overall, what difference doe it make?

    I’ve gotta tell you , that kind of "holier than thou" attitude is really unattractive. You don’t know me so you are really not quaified to comment on why I do anything. But thanks for reminding me that no matter how good I feel about accomplishing something that has been weighing on me, there’s always someone there to try to make you feel worthless. Maybe you could do some thinking about why YOU feel the need to do that.

  3. crawdad13 says:

    whooo!  wow, a little bit oversensitive! nice incoherent rant.

    If you took what I said to be a personal attack, then I am sorry that it came across that way, it was not my intention. (which I guess I thought you might just assume)  I made the mistake of not understanding the difference between the blog version of a monologue and a dialogue.

    Also, because I really DON’T know you, other than reading your blog pretty much everyday for the last few years, I am surprised that I have the authority to make you feel "worthless."  (That has nothing to do with me)

    I didn’t say that you had to justify anything to me.  I also specifically said that I was not judging you (mostly because I do many of the same things.) I wrote mostly in generalities and included myself in the group of people with some of the same motivations.

    Seriously…Why are you so pissed?  You wrote the blog post…I just responded with an observation.

    I do not feel that I NEED to make anyone, much less you, feel worthless, any more than I feel that I have to make you feel good about yourself. When I write to you, via your blog, I do so because I am engaged.

    I would also like to point out that over the past 3 years or so I have been overwhelmingly complimentary of you, your writing and the service your blog provides.  I have written a recommendation for you on linked-in, I link to you from my own blog, I have submitted your blog for awards, have sent your blog post about the need for an MBA to literally thousands of people and have never said or written a single bad word about you.  I tried to be supportive when your grandma died, and through your various illnesses, in the same way that I would be if you and I were actually, personally, acquainted.

    so, I am going to chalk this up to someone having a bad day or reacting to something that I said based on her own stuff, and not necessarily solely on what I wrote.

    You being overly defensive and attacking me was not okay, was unwarranted and probably didn’t really have much to do with me.  It’s okay though, I can take it and I am over it.  I still like you (or at least, I guess, my idea of you) and, even though we haven’t met face to face, I choose to believe that you are not malicious and hope you give me the same benefit.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    Actually, I am having a great day. Hope you do too!

    Happy Holidays!

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