Tidy mind, messy desk


In these busy days of the pre-Christmas compression period (when you have to fit 5 weeks of work into just 3 elapsed weeks) it is important to prioritise.

For example, today I ordered the turkey, but I did not make the Christmas cake. This is because a festive dinner without a turkey is a bigger problem than a festive tea with slightly under-matured cake (and it is easier to resort to a last-minute sourced cake than it is to find a 6 kg turkey on Christmas Eve – although I notice that Amazon sell a 3 kg boneless turkey breast joint…).

I am applying the same relentless logic in prioritising my work. This means that the pile of ‘things to do in January’ is growing fast. The main rule in action here is that no one wants new work to land on their desk in the fortnight before the holiday. Therefore I have postponed all tasks which involve someone else having to take follow-up action. They will thank me for not contributing to their ‘things to do in January’ pile by actually delaying the things to do until January.

This means I can focus on my overdue pile of ‘things to do in November’, which are generally ‘things that must be done before Christmas’.

I do not have a pile of ‘things to do in December’, because everyone knows that December is always really busy and there is no time to do anything.

All these piles of work mean that my study is very untidy. Traditionally I used the quiet time between Christmas and the New Year to tidy my workspace. But that was in the days when I worked in an office and I used to come to work to get some peace and quiet when no one else was working. I could happily spend the day shredding old papers and deleting emails.

So I have applied the following algorithm to prioritise my tidying duties: if the time taken to find specific items (papers, files, books etc) is less than the time it would take to tidy the room, then do not tidy up, else if it is not possible to get from study door to chair at desk, then tidy a pathway through the papers, files, books etc.

Does anyone else have any advent tips on how to cope with the Christmas rush? Or are you too busy to comment?

2 Responses to “Tidy mind, messy desk”

  1. 1 Andy, Perth

    Surely “make the Christmas cake” is on the “things to do in October” list. That gives it lots of time to mature and be fed (with brandy and/or whisky etc. – not forgetting to feed the chef at the same time).

  2. christmas eve is a perfectly adequate time to do anything related to christmas

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