Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mental Clutter Control or How To Organize Your Workspace

If your desk looks anything like Gary’s or Eve’s desk, you have a nice symbol right in front of you of a cluttered mind. You are pretty sure you are going to need most of those piles of paper and files. You know you’re going to update your e-mail contact files and get rid of that Rolodex, and that electronic organizer is just sitting there waiting for you to figure out how to use it so it can make your life easier … today, tomorrow? Three coffee cups are better than one, right? And one of these days you really will sit down and read all those magazines ….
The stuff rattling around in your head is much the same. There is a lot you need to keep track of, a lot you have to remember, plenty of things you have to do. But some-times the rattling gets so loud you can’t concentrate on any one task (not to men-tion, find your to-do list!).
Consider zazen your professional organizer. Zazen is sitting. Zen sitting. It is the one technique used in Zen, and it isn’t complicated. You sit. Simple, yet challenging. Simple, yet exceptionally useful. While it doesn’t sign permission slips or finish re-ports or do the dishes for you, zazen helps to purge your brain of all the stuff that is keeping you from doing what you need to do.
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Oh, and one more thing about that messy desk metaphor. Gary used to criticize himself for the messy desk at home, and also for the messy desk at the office. Eve has a home office but doesn’t like to let people in there, for fear they will see how dis-organized her work space appears. But you know what? True Zen is antimetaphorical. Does your messy desk signify your disordered mind? No. We’ve just imposed that comparison. A messy desk just means you have a messy desk. The thing means only the thing. That’s Zen thinking. If you know where everything is (Gary calls the highest stack his „central file“), if a messy desk makes you comfortable, then let it be. For some people, im-maculate desk space isn’t a priority.