Monday, July 7, 2014

A messy desk

The past few days have been a little frustrating.  It seems like everything I've tried to do has taken much longer to accomplish than it should have.  I get ready to do something and realize I've left something on my desk I needed to accomplish the task.  I can't find a phone number I need.  There are so many things on my to-do list that I can't decide where to start.  I'm not normally like this, and I'm a person who writes about leadership and ministry issues!  Yeah...frustrating is a good word.

Suddenly, as I sit down at my desk to write, I realize why everything seems so disorganized.  My desk looks like a landfill!  I have stacks of stuff stacked on top of other stacks of stuff.  One quick look and I see my day-timer sitting on top of a bunch of papers, an I-Pod earpiece laying beside a thumb drive on top of another stack of papers.  Beside those are two sharpies and a pack of CD/DVD markers on top of a couple of bills to be paid and my pad of post-it notes I use to take down voice mails.  Another stack has folders and spiral notebooks in front of my computer screen.  Sure, that's not a distraction.  Next to four empty coke cans is a book I'm using for my devotional reading.  I think I now realize why everything seems disorganized.  It's because everything is disorganized!

Believe me, I'm not normally like this.  I like to keep my desk clean and everything filed away.  The past few weeks have been busy.  It's been easier to set things down on the desk and go on to the next task rather than putting things where they needed to go, but now I'm paying the price.

The funny thing about this is that I've read (and quoted) efficiency experts who insist that a messy environment is a distraction and keeps one from being effective.  I even lead a workshop on pastoral stress and spend time talking about the value in keeping things neat and orderly.  Maybe I need to review my notes!  Or maybe I just need to remember that clutter creeps up on you quietly and quickly and robs you of your ability to focus and be as effective as you can be.

How does clutter impact your ministry and your life?  Some claim they work best in clutter, but I've noticed that most of these folks are one box away from being on the TV show Hoarders.  Sorry, but I don't buy their claim.  I just can't believe that having a desk and the surrounding floor stacked with papers and books is not a distraction.  My guess is that this is true for you as well.

If you are feeling like your life and/or ministry is disorganized, take a look around you.  What does your desk and study look like?  Are your bookshelves neat and organized?  What about the inside of your car?  Yeah, maybe I am meddling, but if you have to kick aside the McDonald's bags to find your gas pedal you may have a problem with organization which may also mean you have a problem with productivity.

Whether you are bivocational or fully-funded I want to reduce the stress in your life and ministry, and one way to do that is to get organized and stay organized.  If you have to spend 10 minutes to find a piece of paper with the agenda for your next meeting and another 10 minutes to find a pencil, you are going to feel stress.  Unnecessary stress.  You are not going to be productive.  At the end of the day you will be exhausted and frustrated that you didn't accomplish more than you did.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some filing to do.

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