Kicked Out of My Office

Once again I have lost control of my office in terms of clutter, and once again Krissy has kicked me out of the office so she can set a flame thrower to it go through and declutter for me because my own personal definition of “declutter” is “shove things toward walls and then add more stuff.” I’m currently downstairs in the front room on one of the laptops; upstairs there is thumping as things get shoved into boxes.

I’m presenting this humorously, because it is kind of funny, but I should also note how genuinely grateful I am that Krissy is willing to do this stuff for me on occasion, because I am legitimately terrible at it. And in point of fact over time the clutter in my office has a detrimental effect on my ability to work. I feel cramped and crabby. This is no good when, for example, I am on a book deadline. That I can go to Krissy and say “Heeeeeeeelp meeeeeeeee” and then she goes in and does is one reason you all get books on a reasonable schedule.

So all hail Krissy, Slayer of Unmanageable Offices. For this among so many other reasons, I would not be where I am without her.

50 Comments on “Kicked Out of My Office”

  1. From the photo, it appears that your primary problem is the pile of review books/ARCs. I would suggest giving publishers a new shipping address (such as mine). You obviously lack the time to read any of those books since you’re always asking random eejits to comment on them. As a once-serious sf reviewer I would be happy to forward comments on the good stuff to you in blurbable format.

  2. This seems to occur every year or two. You post a photo of your pristine office, and assure us that it will not remain that way. If you have a way to search your posts by title, you will be better able to judge the amount of time between purges.

  3. All that! And Krisssy probably just really enjoys organizing things. (My Mom is the same way. Give her a room to organize and she is in Heavan!) Krissy looks waaay too happy for this to be just random cleaning.

  4. All hail Krissy, indeed! I need Slayer of Unmanageable Spaces in my life. I’m not terrible at it, but it’s definitely harder to do now than it was 20 years ago.

    The garage is currently my #1 priority, although a quick clearing of desk space before that wouldn’t go amiss. I used to declutter my garage at least once a year, but that hasn’t happened since 2010. My father died in 2011, and carloads of tools and stuff from my childhood home followed me back to Massachusetts over the next couple of years. I’ve been determined to clean the garage this year, but I was determined last year, too. The current motivation is that I’m about to buy a new car and would like a clean garage to park it in. Fortunately, it’s likely to be a few weeks yet until the one I want is available. Here’s hoping I use this time to good effect. Or maybe Krissy could stop by for a few days??? :-) Kip Williams is another outstanding Unmanageable Space Slayer; he’s only 325 miles away…..

  5. You are quite lucky. My office is currently in a similar state—I even shared a photo of the controlled chaos in a recent interview. Alas, I have no one to blame or to assist in the tidying but myself—because the cats, dog, and boyfriend are no help. But I’d better get to it; the local weather forecast is calling for temperatures of 107 next week, and my office is the only room in the house with AC.

    Unless Krissy is available on loan . . . ?

  6. I am by inclination a John. Took ages for me to become a Krissy.

    Every family needs one of each.

    My father was Pennsylvania Dutch (the cleanest people on earth;) he was Krissy squared. Mom was a John.

  7. Oh, that smile. She can’t WAIT to get to work! :) I wish I had someone like that in my house. But I do the best I can. I turn up the music and get going for hours. It used to be once a year. Now…..hmmm….I guess it’s time to crank the music and get going.

  8. Should Krissy ever leave her 9-5 job, it seems clear that she could make a killing setting up as a home/office organizer.

  9. I envy you your Krissy. I am in the peculiar position of being the DeClutterer for everyone else, while having no ability to do it for myself unless backed against a wall (presumably by more clutter). This is why I write in coffee shops.

  10. Does she do housecalls? Because I’d pay her in beer, smoked meats, cheeses and seafood if she helped us organize after our move. She can even bring you and Athena. God I wish I was joking.

  11. Ha! I wondered what you did with all those books you get in the mail. It appears you just throw them in a corner! :)

  12. I *wish* my husband would let me do this for him. First thing I’m going to do after he dies is rent a dumpster.

    Does Krissy always wear sneakers in the house or is your office floor …compromised as well?

  13. Books are absolutely the hardest thing in the world to get rid of. There’s always that little voice in the back of your mind saying, “Maybe the day will come when this would be the perfect book to read, and I won’t have it on hand and won’t be able to go on.” At least, that’s what my little voice says to me.

  14. Agreeing with gummitch about the book pile-up being one major problem. Is there space for you to install a bookshelf specifically for review books and ARCs? That would at least get them off the floor; and if you could also get into the habit of taking the ones you don’t want to keep to the used bookstore every couple of months, that would help too.

  15. Brava, Ms. Scalzi! Thanks from all of us for channeling your superpowers for good; we deeply appreciate the impact that it has on your spouse.

    My spouse and I are a pair of packrats descended from Depression-era packrat parents; I still have boxes of stuff from my mother’s house, and she’s been dead for nearly two decades now. In recent years, though, we’ve both been trying our best to winnow through the boxes, totes, shelves, cupboards and closets to purge the collections of unneeded crap we’ve accumulated together over the decades. It’s hard to do; aside from the emotional connections to the silliest stupid pieces of nonsense, there is ALWAYS something else we’d rather do more than declutter.

    But having had the experience of clearing out the homes of those Depression-era packrat parents after their deaths, we also both really want to avoid inflicting that same thing on our own offspring when we’re gone. So we keep at it, tackling a single cupboard one weekend, the top of a closet another weekend, a bookshelf a month later, and we are slowly rediscovering surfaces that we haven’t seen for years. And along the way, Goodwill, St. Vinny’s and every Little Free Library for miles has gotten carloads of donations of things we don’t need but someone else will.

    And on that topic, there are some shelves in the spare bedroom that I’ve been meaning to sort through for months now. With Ms. Scalzi’s excellent example spurring me on, I think I’ll go tackle that this afternoon. Thanks again!

  16. So nice to read comments such as yours. They warm my heart. Your wife’s too, I bet.

  17. What a great partner! Just make sure none of the boxes to be tossed are meowing….

  18. I’ll believe when I see the “after” picture. Because judging from the “before” picture, some degree of demolition is clearly required.

  19. Clearly, helping each other out with these weak spots is an aspect of being good at marriage.

    Which is why I would probably be bad at marriage. My reaction, when looking at this photo, is that I would lock you in there with that junk, throw away the key, and move out of the house if you got noisy or an odor started to emanate from the room.

  20. We all need a Krissy for when things get out of control. Unfortunately, my wife and I are both hoarders, so it is tough to deal with disorder.

  21. I don’t know how Krissy got in there- rappelled over the piles of books maybe- but she sure has a job ahead of her. You are a fortunate man to have her.

  22. While I can certainly appreciate the value of a good declutter-er, I shudder at the thought of having anyone but me organize my crap. I have little to no confidence that I’d be able to find anything afterwards.

  23. Enjoyed your tale of office deposit woe!

    My Dad was a newspaper editor – also head manager in charge. The press rolled every night at around midnight. So he had the only office in the newsroom, a big corner office with glass walls.

    There was a credenza, covered with papers, a desk with stacks on all available space, and a couple of 4-drawer file cabinets. The only surface not covered with papers and magazines and newspapers and such was the typewriter stand, which was covered with a big Remington.

    Once a train went by out back and several of the piles gave it up, slid onto the floor. Dad was speechless, furious, but there was no one to be angry with but himself. He always claimed that he could search for an article to quote in an editorial and reach into the correct pile at the correct depth. I saw him do it a few times, but as often as not he would dig like a dog after a gopher.

    Then, decades later, I became a software developer, then a project leader, then manager. My office was organized archaeologically, by age and depth. Same as my dad, only the train wasn’t right outside my office window, so the piles were more stable.

    Then I retired, and threw out most everything….

    At home, we are both collectors of stuff. I built a new building about 10 years ago to hold the overflow from the house… it’s also a garage with room for (currently) 2 cars and a tractor.

    There’s something to be said for allowing thing to accumulate so far, and no farther.

  24. I’m currently trying to declutter and organize my desk so as to keep the necessary paperwork for running a business in good order. This is a significant challenge, as we have no Krissy-like person in our house, and my desk is generally an accumulator of all things paperworkish in the house. Fear of future IRS incursions is doing something towards keeping me on track though. Scarily enough, my 17 year old son is the closest thing we have to an organized person in the house.

  25. I made my partner build me an addition before I moved in, because his house was too full of stuff. The addition made the house about 50% bigger. The bigger house is now way too full of stuff.
    (In the interest of full disclosure, I did move in with my own houseful of stuff.)
    (But in the interest of self-defense, I pared my stuff drastically every time I moved, whereas he’s been in the same house for three of my moves, and has never done that drastic paring thing.)

  26. Scalzi — when I showed this picture to my wife, her reaction was immediate, severe, and correct.

    Namely, hire someone to help keep yourself managed. You’re getting Krissy to do unpaid emotional labor that you refuse to do.

    Love you. Adore your books. Hire someone to come in every 3 months and help.

  27. File by pile….

    It sure helps for someone else with knowledge of your working ways decide what should be disposed or stored.

  28. I’m a clutterer myself (it’s genetic) but I’ve cleaned out enough family houses to want to change, and then I married a man who is definitely NOT a clutterer. So I started by limiting the areas I could clutter, and then by working to change habits. At least in the kitchen I now have a clean counter when I finish cooking something. My desk, however … that’s graduate level work. And I still have a handful of boxes from my parent’s houses.
    Even thought effort is emotionally draining, I’m glad my husband is there to provide an extra motivation. When I look at the house through his eyes, I get a new perspective on the problem.

  29. William Nichols:

    Or, both Krissy and I can live our lives how we want to and you can shut the fuck up about it.

    Aside from the actual fact that there’s no way on Earth I or anyone else could get Krissy to do anything she doesn’t want to do, neither you nor your wife has considered that Krissy might actually enjoy doing something like this for me, just as I equally enjoy doing things for her that might seem like “emotional labor” to someone else.

    So, yeah, stuff it, dude.

  30. Krissy is lucky. At least you let her declutter for you. I would happily do it for Himself, but it’s too traumatic for him. I take his stuff out of the kitchen, but I’ve just learned to avoid going into the office.

  31. The price of unsolicited advice on this blog just went up. As for all things Augean, dynamite works well in the hard-to-reach places. Fire in the hole . . .

  32. I’m sure this has been asked and answered a dozen times; what happens to all those books?

  33. I’m a cleaner, my wife’s an organizer. So whereas I on my own would live in a clean house with big stacks of important papers piled willy nilly with bills going overdue and she would be well organized with monster dust bunnies all over and last week’s takeout shoved to the back of the fridge, the two of us together live remarkably organized and clean lives. She likes organizing, I like cleaning. What’s not to like?

    And to the dinkus with the tiny stick whose note above this is soon to be / was hammered into dust, Alphas just are. It’s the weak who cry about what other people do in their lives, you tick-laden gamma bunny you. Back to your chocolate milk, son.

  34. [Matrimony was ordained, ] Thirdly, for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

    — book of common prayer

  35. Krissy, if those advance copies of Head on need to go somewhere, I’ll happily help:-)

    I’ll still buy the e-book when it comes out as I won’t be able to keep the hardcopy forever as my wife is making pointed comments that our 18 month old won’t be wanting to live in a room with five 7ft bookcases and a 28inch monitor when the 2nd comes along and kicks him out of the nursery.

    No spare copies? Rats, it was worth a go!

  36. As they say, behind every successful man is a woman with a bazooka…:D

    In all seriousness though, the clutter that represents your office is minor league compared to what I’ve seen as a guv’ment employee (serious cases of hoarding/fire hazards in some instances) over the years. But, the key thing is that you’re man enough to admit that you need help from time to time so as to be a functioning member of Planet Earth again, and I give you major props for that.

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