You can find my previous Collected-related post here.
A while ago, while consulting one of those American websites that has all the answers about productivity, life, the universe and everything, the internet gave me the following advice:
If you’ve got a pile of clutter on your desk, put it in a box and set it to one side. You’ll find out what’s important when you need to dig it out. When you’ve done with it, put it back and keep a clean desk. This will increase your productivity ten-fold, and make you a Better Person.
Okay, I’m paraphrasing. And possibly exaggerating slightly. But that was the gist. For authenticity I could have included the word “gotten” in the above paragraph, but I’m afraid I can’t see that word without feeling like I’m going to vomit.
Any road, I looked at my desk and realised it was a considerable mess, so this seemed like a good idea. I duly took all the crap from said desk and put it in a box. This variety of items included a stapler, staples (wrong size), cables, half a packet of batteries, some rawl plugs, a blank DVD (or it might be a CD and it might not be blank…) and miscellaneous other items too tedious to name here. I put the box on the floor where I couldn’t see it and had myself a nice clear desk. Great, I thought. Let the enhanced productivity begin.
The thing is, now there’s another pile of detritus on my desk: a component from the car my wife recently sold, a yellow tape measure, some post-its, £1.15 in loose change, miscellaneous pens and pencils, bits of paper that presumably have something important on them, a pile of mail that I need to deal with and the elastic band that held the mail together until the last time I looked at it, as well as numerous other items.
Having considered whether to put all this stuff in the box, get another box, or get a bigger box, I’ve decided that, well, quite frankly it can all stay just where it is. The study of every half-decent writer I’ve ever seen has been chaotic, so I’ll satisfy myself with the possibly delusional notion that this indicates potential on my part.
The previous box remains on the floor. It’s hidden under a roadmap, a couple of Jiffy bags, an empty DVD cakebox, a sleeping bag in a stuff sac, a two-thirds used ream of printer paper…