Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Confession Time: I'm a Packrat

You know how in a movie, when someone gets fired, they hand them a little box to put their belongings in to leave?

That will never be me.

If I were ever to be fired from my job, it would take me three days to clean out my desk.

Why? I'm a pack rat.

This is what my desk currently looks like:

I find it hard to part with things, especially printed information. You never know what you may need down the road. Trust me, if someone in my office needed to know the price of tea in China ten years ago, I have the memo.

Though it might take me a few minutes to find it.

Yes, I know. But there is some method to my madness.

I love "sticky notes." I honestly don't know how I functioned before I had them. I jot down things on sticky notes all the time. I have several sizes and colors of sticky notes and use them for everything from jotting down a quick reminder to scripting whole memo's to document occurances. The downside to sticky notes is there is a limit to their stickiness and you often find them stuck to unrelated items. I cleaned out the bottom of my purse today and found six sticky notes in the bottom. They have random notes (such as "home", which means "take this home") to telephone numbers of unnamed people (here I must apologize, if you are expecting a call from me, as soon as I figure out which one of these numbers might be yours).

I also love highlighters. I use a different color for each day of the week, an idea I got from a former nurse, who explained that each shift used a different color to make chart notes. It was a given that notes in a particular color were made by a particular shift nurse at just a glance. That seemed logical to me so I devised my own system. Monday's are yellow, Tuesday's are pink, Wednesday's are green, Thursday is blue, and Friday is orange. I've used this color code for years. If you bring me the original document of an order I keyed ten years ago and it's highlighted in green, I can tell you at just a glance that I processed the order on a Wednesday.

I use a type of paperweight to mark various stacks of pending work. They are actually laminated strips of paper, each printed with the type of stack they are protecting. "Orders with Issues" is my favorite.

A great deal of real estate, that large bottom desk drawer to be exact, is filled to the brim with my "Things To Do" note books. I use them to jot down my objectives for the day, or things that I handle that day and tick them off as they are down. And I probably have everyone one I've ever used. You know that memo about the price of tea in China? There is a note made that I recieved it and sent it to be distributed to the CSR team and it's in a notebook in the bottom of that drawer.

After 20 years at a company, one accumulates quite a bit of personal property. I have a stress ball shaped like a coffee cup. I have a stress ball shaped like a lion. I have a stuffed fish, a paddle ball shaped like a fish, I have a paddle ball shaped like a lion. I have 2 dozen coffee mugs and about 30 magnets, half of which are somehow coffee related. I have at least 15 different name tags from various events. There is an apothocary jar full to the rim with buttons to celebrate a customer visit. I have 10 or 12 photos of my family, none of which are remotely current.

Under my desk is a box of tee shirts, 4 empty vases, and a box of empty Walmart bags (that I do share whenever we get the "cleaning out the fridge" memo). There is no telling what is hiding behind that black curtain behind my chair.

We have a "tour ready" philosophy, that I am currently failing to meet. I try to conduct my tours in the middle of the room where it's less crowded and I don't have to worry about explaining the cartoon I have pinned to my wall that makes me laugh hysterically whenever I take the time to read it.

My email is not much better. IT has me on their "top ten offenders" list and has since disabled my "manual empty" option on the trash folder. It automatically empties itself every sixty days. The thought that sixty-one days from now I might need something I fliptantly deleted has driven me to avoid deleting anything.

Letting go of things is especially hard, because time and time again, I've thrown something out/deleted it, only to have someone ask me if I have it the very next day.

Maybe it's just the thought that one day I will be able to save the day because of something I've saved in my email or on my desk.

People do come from all over the office in search of things, because they know, of all people, I'm most likely to have it. They are more surprised when I don't have it than they are when I do.

I have a personal goal to have my office weeded and organized by the end of this year.

But it looks like I may have to take a few days off to do it.

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