Avalanche Zone

Drifts are starting to grow.

I usually work under threat of an avalanche. Paper mysteriously multiplies around my workspace. I swear it happens when my back is turned.

Left unchecked I could end up being buried alive in old to-do lists, obsolete outlines, expired discount coupons, unfiled receipts, illegible great ideas, envelopes with phone numbers I don’t recognize scrawled on the back, and that note I’ve been looking for all week.

The cats love it. They prefer the comfort of a nice cushy pile of paper to the unforgiving hardness of the desk itself.  There is also the feline delight that comes from a long, luxurious stretch that “inadvertently” shoves half a stack of current work down into the relatively inaccessible reaches behind the desk.  That is always accompanied by a soft sigh of satisfaction.

Eventually the piles grow until even I can’t stand it. A rapid and massive cleanup ensues. I’d like to say I actually deal with the paper but that is not usually the case. (Hey, I’ve been this way for 65 years, it’s not likely to change any time soon.)

If I’m in a hurry I’ll grab a bag or a box and dump everything into it to be dealt with later. (Don’t ask how many boxes and bags I have stashed under my desk right now.)  Unless I’m forced to drag one out to search for that one thing I suddenly desperately need, these caches age until the contents are completely irrelevant, signaled by how thick the dust is. Eventually they go to the shredder, still in the box or bag.

On the rare occasion that I grant the cleanup task a little time I’ll actually sort and discard what no longer has relevance. The few sheets and cards that will remain become the seeds of a new encroachment. The desk stays clear with only my calendar/time tracker at hand for a few days, sometimes a week. Then one morning I find a few stray sheets left from the end of the previous day, notes of things I need to do.

The cycle repeats.