Mess, Stress & Success

So pleased with my new desk!

So pleased with my new desk!

This is where it all happens! And now it’s happening with a lot more zen.

Nearly two years ago, I moved into a place in my dream location — near the canal in Montreal. I love this area because it’s so close to the market where I get my organic food and so close to the bike path along the canal. When I saw this apartment, I jumped on it because of those reasons. I so wanted to be in this area, that I didn’t pay enough attention to how little storage space there is here. Not having space for my things meant a lot of clutter, and a lot of clutter, for me, means stress.

I didn’t realize how much stress until after my new desk was installed, along with my new shelving system. After all the work was done of getting things off the floor and onto the shelves and into the drawers, I was relaxing in my living room. Then a little while later, I walked down the hallway towards the office, and I felt my stomach constrict. I stopped and thought, What the heck is that all about? And why does it feel so familiar? Then I realized that I’ve had that feeling every time I walked near my messy office.

What a revelation! So many lessons in that moment, and here are a few:

  1. Increased productivity. Now that I have things organized and neat, I find that I’m so much more productive. I’ve always worked hard and often right up to bedtime. Now that my office is tidy, I am able to think more clearly and get things done more quickly.
  2. More Calm. When I walk down the hallway now, the feeling I get in the pit of my stomach is joy because I know I’m walking into a space I’ve prepared for me to do my work. I no longer have that niggling at the back of my mind that I should do this or that because it’s all done, and I can focus on what’s important.
  3. More Time. With increased productivity and more calm, I now have more time to enjoy the aspects of the locale that made me want to move here in the first place. It’s funny how things work together that way!

The other thing that came out of this office makeover was something that I already knew, but I keep re-learning in different ways, and that is: Help is Good! I’m a really independent person. I like to do things myself, but a wise person is one who knows when to ask for help. Last summer, I hired office organizer Nathalie Pedicelli. She was so great! She helped me quickly sort things into categories. The job of de-cluttering is all about bite-sized lumps — which is the same thing in writing, by the way, and I’ll write about this in an upcoming blog post. But back to my organizer.

I really wanted a see-through desk with no drawers. Nathalie advised me to get a desk similar to the one I ended up with, but I resisted until just recently. Now, I’m so glad I have this desk, and I’m so grateful to my organizer for helping me reach my goal of having a zen office that supports me in my creative efforts.

One last thing, this is an IKEA desk, but after I got it home, I realized it had been made in Poland. My grandparents were Polish. They are both gone now, but they would have approved of this practical desk, and it sort of feels as if my grandparents are here in spirit. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve felt their presence in my office, and I wonder if it’s because, previously, there wasn’t any room in here for them.


If you’d like to see a short film I made about my grandmother called Keepsake, click here.