Does anybody read these?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Organized chaos...

In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm a writer. I'm a journalist. My natural habitat is the newsroom.

Have you ever been to a newsroom?

I stole this picture off the Internet from someone who works in a newsroom so y'all could see what they look like. It was a challenge, because when I worked in newsrooms they'd make us tidy up before they took any type of official photo. Thank God for camera phones and people like me who blog when they're procrastinating on a deadline, or I might not have this gem to show you.

I've never met a journalist with a clean desk. Ever. I think it has something to do with the type of brain that you have to have to be a good journalist. I think we're all a little cluttered inside. I know that for me, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am a visual learner. I have to have everything spread out in front of me to work on something.

I'm also a bit of a perfectionist, and I know that's going to sound odd, because I'm a bit of a pig. Yes, I'll admit it. I hate to clean. But the fact that I'm messy drives me nuts about 80 percent of the time. When I'm on deadline, I couldn't really care, but generally the second I'm done with a project, I'll straighten up. My mother and her sisters helped me with the big Veterans Day gala when I was at the Paralyzed Veterans. This was a project I worked on for nine months and the last month before the gala, it consumed my life. They almost died when they saw my office. Because "deadline desk" is so much scarier than my normal everyday desk. Combine that with having been in the same office for two years, and me saving everything for story ideas, and it was almost a fire hazard. My mom hates that I'm messy, but she knows that the closer I get to a deadline, the less visible my desk is.

So, the perfectionist thing (because I know you're still not getting it!). When I do something, I am meticulous about it. I may do it last-minute and I might fly by the seat of my pants, but if I do something and it's not perfect, I go nuts. I come from a family of OCD people, so I am used to it by now. But being OCD is why I'm messy. I can't just tidy up. I have to full-on clean. It takes hours because I literally throw everything in a pile and dig my way out. And then it's perfect. If I tidied up a little everyday just for the sake of tidying, that's not perfect in my eyes.

I'm like that with everything. I did laundry last night. Why? I was out of clean clothes. Completely. And now I'll do laundry until I have a closet-full of clean clothes. And then I'll repeat the cycle. Yes, I know it'd be easier to do a load of laundry every few days when my hamper gets full, but my brain doesn't work that way. Maybe someday, because I really am working on it.

But maybe not.

My former co-workers called my office organized chaos. Really, my life is organized chaos. I know where everything is, even if it might not look like it. I'm sure I drive my roommates nuts, because I always seem to end up living with OCD super-clean types. One time I had a roommate who cleaned my room while I was away for the weekend. I'm sure her organizational style works for her, but it made me want to kill myself. There were things I never found until I moved out of the apartment two years later.

I don't know what it is about journalists. I had a professor in college and I'm still amazed the health department didn't shut her down. There was a guy that I worked with at the paper who had been there for 30 years. He probably had press releases from the Nixon administration on his desk.

People wonder why I'm a pack rat. I'll give you an example. I sat down today to write a story that I've been researching for almost six months. Yes, it's due at 5 p.m. today. (Shut up. I love the pressure of deadlines.) Anyhow, I sat down to do it, and I'll be damned if I can find the background materials for it. And no, wise ass, it's not because I lost them in the clutter. I cleaned a few weeks ago and recycled stuff I thought I was finished with. I'm guessing that's where they went. I can probably do the story without them, but that's not the point. At all. The point is that when I throw shit away, I always end up needing it. So much better to just have piles...

I like working with other journalists. They get my thought process and know why my desk looks crazier and crazier closer to deadline. In fact, this is an actual picture of my desk, taken yesterday. It's definitely deadline desk. I had a press release, four magazine stories and one newsletter story due this week. Plus all my other work I do everyday like compiling news clips, designing brochures and updating the mailing list for the publication that I'm responsible for.

That's really not that bad for my desk. I have to keep it relatively clean because our maintenance guy supposedly dusts once every couple of weeks. And besides, I've only been here a few months, and apparently I recycle shit that I need, so that helps with the clutter.

There was an article yesterday that hit the wires. I'm not surprised that journalists jumped all over this story. Apparently there's a new book out that says that messy people are just as productive, if not more so, than neatniks. I love the part where it says organized people actually waste their companies' time, because I worked with that girl. Never did a damn thing to contribute to our team, but her desk was spotless. She spent hours on it each day.

Anyhow, this is the article. It's very interesting. I think I need to check out that book too. I'm sure it'd be nice to be organized, but since I'm not I hope no one forces it on me.

What about you? Are you messy? Clean? OCD? A little sloppy?

Oh, and I double dog dare you to post a picture of your desk. And no cheating and cleaning it up before you do it!

2 comment(s):

I would but I don't want you to cry. But then again you know me and it is clean. I even dust it myself a few times a week. Working in a warehouse it gets dusty quickly and dust is bad for my allergies. I have actually seen a newsroom though. I went to the mall recently and imagine my surprise when we went down this one corridor that I had not visited in awhile and there was the local news station now taking up spacing and calling Meadow Wood Mall home. They were actually interviewing people for a segment of the news; needless to say I dodged that quickly because I have no desire to be on tv. I have already had my 15 seconds of fame.

By Blogger rosalie, at 3/25/2007 11:04 AM  

Ugh, journalists. Can't find anything until you absolutely need it. Files, what're those. Good for you

By Blogger jmcjournalist, at 4/02/2007 11:44 PM  

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