I spent a short hour at my office today to begin sorting what’s there. I was horrified when I really looked at what was in my top desk drawer. See for yourself (photo on left). There were cracker crumbs, tons of baggies, plastic silverware and unused paper towels. It took me less than a minute to trash almost everything except for the six cereal bars, a steak knife, some clorox wipes, and three very sturdy plastic bags I will use to schlep things home.
A colleague of mine in African literature stopped in to see how I was progressing. I told her, “It’s not fun” when she said that I really shouldn’t leave anything in my office that I care about. I was working under the assumption that I have a year or more to decide what to keep until she recounted the tale of another colleague who was on sabbatical. All of his things ended up in boxes in the hallway when a new hire was temporarily placed in his office. I had to immediately switch gears to “what will I be sad about losing forever” instead of throwing what I don’t care about into the trash. The boundary between trashing and preserving is surprisingly fragile.