For years I have struggled with the challenge of clutter in my office... both at home and at various jobs I've held. These days, I don't have an office at work (not a big need for one as a bike mechanic!), but my desk at home still often ends up looking like a minor disaster area. Nothing awful, no cans of half-eaten food or empty bottles or things like that... it's mostly just papers... untidy piles of paper. Try as I might, I never seem to find a way to defeat this problem completely.
But at least I know why it happens. It dawned on me a number of years ago when I was teaching at a prestigious eastern university (which must remain unnamed, or they will use that "intellectual property" clause of my contract and lay claim to the theory). I call it my Sourdough Theory of Office Clutter.
Stay with me here. We've all been through this... you decide to buckle down and finally attack the pile or piles of accumulated stuff in your office. You diligently sort through it all, filing things away, recycling others, passing some onto a colleague perhaps. But then, when you've gone through all of that... there's that one, small, random pile of stuff that you can't quite find a home for, and can't yet dispose of. That, dear reader, is the "starter"! Yes, much like sourdough bread, clutter needs a "seed" pile to start from. And there it is. Waiting. Before you know it, it starts to grow, and the next thing you know you're right back where you started.
Now, having come up with this brilliant theory more than a decade ago, you'd think I would have found a solution by now. But no... look at the picture of my desk below... see it there... on the right hand edge? You can almost hear it chuckling...