Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Welcome to Our Messy World

First of all, I haven't cleaned one thing off my desk, nor did I wash out either of the two coffee cups I used yesterday. And that's actually good news -- because it shows that so many people are emailing me that I am happily wading through the emails. So keep them coming. I'll have them organized (ha!) soon.

The emails and phone calls are generally funny and good-humored -- I received some horrifying pictures which show desks that are much worse than mine! Some people have offered suggestions which I will pass on soon.

Some of the calls and letters are very sad. One call came from an elderly gentleman, a widower, who lives in a four-bedroom house that is just full of all the accumulations of life. They burden him and yet he can't throw them away -- probably all are attached to memories of a life gone by. Another came from a smart and funny mother of a smart and charming pre-teen with attention deficit disorder. She feels herself sliding into a kind of chaotic depression as she tries to organize her house, her job and her son.

I hope all of us can help these people, even if it's just to cheer them up. Probably I'll pray for them. Being a reporter, you have to be a little thick-skinned, and obviously, remain objective and professional, no matter what your emotions may be. But those rules don't apply to prayer, thank God.

Now I have to go wash my coffee cups. More to come...

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Executive Director and the Publicist

Being basically a coward and a procrastinator, I decided to watch other people get organized before I took the big plunge. Here’s how I found the two people profiled in the Inquirer this morning:

I met Norie Wisniewski, the nonprofit executive director through a mutual business acquaintance, who sent out an e-mail letter to her contacts asking if they wanted to be organized. People did, but Norie, executive director of Haddonfield’s Interfaith Caregivers, was the only one who wasn't too embarrassed to ask for help.

I thought her situation was typical of many people who work in nonprofits where resources and support staff are minimal and where the head of an agency is also the chief cook and bottlewasher.

Ellen Faye, an organizer from Cherry Hill, was happy to participate when she found out that her client would be Norie. Of course, the organizers appreciate the chance for a spotlight in the Inquirer, but Ellen also saw working with Norie as a community service — helping a helper.

You’ll notice that Jamie Joffe, the publicist, very cleverly managed to get me to write about her — that’s what she does for a living for her clients. But I think she took a little risk, because people don’t mind admitting that they aren’t organized, but they want their hired professionals to be very organized.

Even though I’m not in a rush to publicize public relations people, I let myself be persuaded because I think her situation is very typical of many people who have at-home businesses or who work for themselves. I know, because I’m married to someone in Jamie’s same boat.

Maybe he’ll get the hint.

That wasn’t nice, was it?

I’ll tell you who is nice (besides my husband). Our Inquirer readers are very nice. Many apologized for cluttering my e-mail in-basket. But, please, that's not a problem. When you get to 4,000, an extra 50 isn’t going to kill crash the system, believe me. Almost all offered sympathy and encouragement. Someone named papertigerlady told me organizing is art. If that’s the case, move over Picasso.

I’m trying to figure out a way to get my Digging Out emails on this blog. As soon as I do, I’ll put them on.
More to come...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Welcome to my messy world

When I look at my desk and see how untidy it is, I get discouraged. Then when I think of the 4,200 emails in my inbox, I want to hang my head and cry. How about you?

A few years ago, my friend Julie Kassalow Noris, a business coach, helped me organize my files in my house. She said I should move my battered metal file cabinets from a neglected third floor office to the kitchen, since I spend all my time there.

Yes, until I bought new wooden file cabinets, my old trusty rustys looked weird in the breakfast nook. But they made it easier for me to take care of bills and files at home. To me, Julie’s permission to let me live the way I live was an incredible act of friendship. She didn’t tell me what to do, but just sat with me while I did it. More importantly, what she said made sense and I wouldn’t have thought of the idea myself, even though it seems perfectly obvious.

Now, of course you, the reader of this blog, and I, the writer, don’t know each other yet, so we can hardly think of ourselves as friends.

But let’s act as if we are. Let’s do for each other what my friend Julie did for me.
Let’s dig out together and bring some calm into our work lives. Let’s encourage each other and exchange tips. Feel free to whine. (Don’t tell me about your closets - that’s a whole ‘nuther part of the newspaper; we’re strictly bizness here.)

Our topics? Cluttered desks, emails, computer desktops, over-crowded calendars, piles of files, used coffee cups with odd life forms, pens that don’t work, old newspapers. You get the picture.
I plan to start working on my desk and will let you know how it goes. Tell me what’s happening with yours. We will allow the organized out there to advise us (please!), as long as they behave nicely and don’t condescend!
More to come...