National Clean Off Your Desk Day: Tips For Getting and Staying Organized

Happy Monday, loves!

Super fun fact: Did y’all know today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? Well, it is; and I cannot think of a better Monday vibe. If you know me, you know I’m all about organization and cleanliness and all things OCD when it comes to being neat and clean and all that fun stuff.

Basically, this day speaks to me like no other.

I love organization. I live for cleanliness.

Isn’t that just ironic when I’m the mom of four? I’ve been instilling in my kids since day one that cleanliness is a real thing – not that Ava gets that, but she keeps her door shut and I avoid her room like the plague. Her idea of clean is too cluttered for my taste, so I just don’t go into her room. I want her to be independent and her own self, but she’s actually killing me.

Fortunately, the rest of my people are clean. And my desk is always clean. My office is always clean, to be quite honest. The kids aren’t allowed in our home office since we both work from home and we both have so many important items in our office.

It’s so important to understand the importance of an uncluttered, clean desk. Before I get to my clean desk tips, I want you to know what a clean desk can do for you.

  • Make you more motivated
  • Make you less stressed
  • Give you more time
  • Make your life easier

A clean desk means you’re not overwhelmed the moment you sit down.  You’re not spending valuable time searching for things, cleaning things out, or feeling like you cannot get organized. You’re more motivated to work at a clean desk. You’re less stressed when everything is neat and tidy.  Your life is easier because your mind is as uncluttered as your desk.  You’ll get more done, and you’ll get it done more efficiently.

How’s that for clean your desk of day motivation?

In honor of #nationalcleanoffyourdeskday I’m offering you a few tips that might help you keep things neat, clean, and as minimalistic as possible.

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Get Rid of It

You know you don’t need everything in your desk. Go through it with a trash bag on hand, and throw that junk away. Throw all of it away. What you cannot throw away, find a file or scan it or something. And that goes for everything on top of your desk, too.

Sign Up For Online Billing

If you’re looking for a simple way to keep your desk clean, try signing up for online billing. This keeps your desk clean and uncluttered because all of those bills you get each month go right to your inbox rather than your mailbox. Additionally, this is so much safer for your financial identity – keep that personal information out of your physical mailbox – and your desk cleanliness.

File It

I advocate for digital filing if you can make that a thing in your life. Scan it and create files on your computer in which you keep all your important stuff so it’s not in files around your office. Our home office is as uncluttered as you can imagine, and that’s because I keep everything digitally filed. We have our desks, we have one decorative table and lamp, and we have a sizable cabinet with a few shelves and a big cabinet. We keep as much on our computers as possible, and everything else gets filed into pretty files in the cabinet.

Make it A Habit

The best way to clean your desk is to keep it clean all the time. Put a trash can by your desk and put trash in it right away rather than shoving it in drawers. File things immediately rather than putting them in a ‘to do’ pile. You can make it a habit after a few weeks if you really dedicate your life to keeping your desk organized.

You don’t have to work from home to have a clean desk. And you don’t have to stop at your desk. Organizing your life makes it that much sweeter, and we are big advocates of a sweeter life.

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Working from Home: Answering FAQs About the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio)

If you follow me on Instastories, you may have noticed I posted a story last week of me sitting in my dining room with my laptop, iPad, and notes working away after being forced out of my home office in annoyance. In fact, I know you noticed because I receive so many DMs about it. Rather than try and answer all of them individually (especially since so many of them were the same questions) I thought I’d rearrange my blog schedule and add a little work from home FAQ in here today.

I hope you’re all enjoying your last day of a long three-day weekend! Our weekend was gorgeous. Lots of quality time at home on Saturday before date night Saturday night, and we spent yesterday with the kids at Disney. They had a blast, the weather was cool and gorgeous, and it was a pretty sweet day.

Today, we’re back in our office working hard while the kids run rampant around the house like animals. Actually, they mostly play quietly together aside from the “Can I have a snack?” break they take every 30 seconds or so. I’ll cut my day short in my office this morning around 10, which gives me a solid four hours or so to work and the rest of the day to keep the kids happy. I have some errands to run, we have dinner with friends tonight, and prep for the kids to go back to school tomorrow to handle, so short day for mama.

And now that I’m completely off topic, you’re bored. It’s cool. No one thinks the mundane life of Publix runs and gym time and kid stuff is as interesting as the actual person handling it – and honestly, I’m not super entertained by it myself right now. So back to the work-from-home stuff. You have questions, I have answers.

  1. What do you do and what does your husband do?

I’ll start with me, since I’m the writer and, well, ladies first. I’m a writer. No, not a book author. I have the blog, but what I do is web content creation. I’ve been doing it almost 10 years now, and I’ve been building a client list that’s extensive over the course of that time.

I write a little of everything. There were a few years I wrote parenting articles for What to Expect. There were a few years I worked with the NFL traveling to NYC to their offices every few months to work with a panel of other creators on the Heads Up Program. However, most of my clients are either website owners looking for me to create their content.

Most of my clients are automobile dealers, insurance companies, law firms, dental offices, rehab facilities, limo companies, television spoilers, plumbing and HVAC companies, and even a few landscape design companies. They’re located all over the country. I write their landing pages, their blog posts, and anything else they contract me to write. My blog is my creative outlet, and I really enjoy my clients.

What does my husband do? That is a good question. I honestly don’t have a damn clue. His official title is Senior Systems Engineer. He works for a company based out of Tampa, and he sits quietly at his desk all day long working away doing God-knows-what and talking on the phone using language I don’t understand. I understand so very little of what he actually does I can say, “Sounds like a rough day,” and he’ll be like, “What? No, it’s been a great day. So productive,” and I’m over here thinking if his day was my day, I’d have scratched my eyes out by now. But he loves it, he’s super smart, and he’s a total geek.

He’s been doing this since 2016. Before that, he was IT for a bank for 16 years. He’s loyal. He works hard, and he’s smart. He’s also never been happier than he has been working from home, interrupting me constantly with his loud phone calls, and occasionally glaring at me when the doorbell rings again because another package has been delivered.

If you asked me what’s hard about him being home working with me, it’s that. He is unimpressed our UPS and Fed Ex guys know my name, and how many times a week they’re here. But, he doesn’t ask questions. And I’m totally off topic again.

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  1. How do you work together in the same office all day?

Most days we work really well together and there’s no problem. Occasionally, however, I find myself kicking myself out of our office (um, sometimes I like to point out that I’m self-exiling myself from MY home office that he crashed considering I’ve been working from home almost ten years and he’s been here like 2, but only when I’m really annoyed and potentially a little petty) to work elsewhere.

Sometimes it’s just because I’m a creative person, and a change of scene is good for me. I might work on the front porch, on the lanai, in bed, in the family room, the dining room, the back deck. I might even take my computer and go work out of the house if I’m really feeling distracted or in a rut. Other times I just have to get out of the office because there are a few clients my husband speaks to on the phone that must speak very loudly, because suddenly his indoor voice disappears and his conversations are loud. I can shoot him the same, “Shhh,” warning look I use on the kids, and it works just as well; sheepishly quiet for a second and then back to decibels that make my ears bleed. He can’t help it, though.

He feeds off whomever it is he’s speaking to. If he’s speaking to his dad on the weekends or at night, he develops his dad’s North Carolina accent. If he’s speaking to a client with a naturally loud and boisterous voice, he’s also loud and boisterous. And sometimes that drives me nuts, but most of the time I’m cool with it.

To get back to actually providing a useful answer to the question; we work well together. He works for someone else, I work for myself, so we don’t do the same thing. I work. He works. We are both workaholics, and we both focus hard on our work.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Don’t you get sick of one another being together all day every day?

Nope. It’s kind of hard to get sick of someone you don’t actually speak to all day long. Again, we do different things. I need to concentrate because I’m writing, and my train of thought is going at a rapid pace. He’s on the phone, he’s on the computer, on conference calls, whatever. Believe it or not, we communicate less now that our desks are in the same room only 10 feet apart than we did when he worked at the bank 45 minutes away from our home.

In those days, he’d text me throughout the day to tell me he loved me, to see how my day is going, to check in, whatever. I’d respond. We’d chat. Now we can see how one another’s day is going, we’re 10 feet apart all day long, and we don’t text throughout the day anymore. We keep strict schedules and we both love what we do, so we’re working.

“I love you, be safe,” “I love you back,” “Do you need anything from Publix?” “Can I get you another cup of coffee while I’m up?” “Oh, look, Fedex/UPS is here. Again,”

Those are kind of the only words we speak to one another throughout the day. We do try to make time to take a walk and have lunch together most days for a little fresh air and quality time, and we’re good about it most days. It’s nice, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you work the same hours?

Kind of and not really. We do, but we don’t. Again, he does not work for himself, so he technically works certain hours throughout the day from 8 to 5 where I work when my creative juices are flowing most freely. I’m exceptionally motivated and most creative in the morning. I’m a morning person, so I’m up at five working while he and the kids sleep. My husband is amazing handling the lunch packing, school-readying, and the kids in the mornings so I can work uninterrupted until it’s time to leave the house at 8 to get all four of them to school.

One of my biggest complaints as a work-from-home mom for the 8 years I did this before he started working from home was missing out on my most creative work time to get everyone fed and dressed and take to school. When he began working from home, he offered to take that over so I could have that time to work in the mornings. It’s been amazing, and he so appreciates everything I’ve ever done handling that part of the day on his own. Mornings with four kids are exhausting. More accurately, they’re a bitch.

While he works all day, I’m in and out. I handle anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 words per day, though I try not to schedule myself more than 15,000 words per day most days. I only need five to six hours a day to work to meet my deadlines, get my life in order, and answer emails, and update my checklists and calendars. So my day looks a little different.

I leave at 8:15ish to take the kids to school. Three days a week I’m home around 10 because I go to the YMCA to work out in the gym after dropping them off at their respective schools and I work the rest of the day. Two days a week I’m home by 9:10, back at my desk until 10:50 and then I leave for yoga. I’m back by 12:10, and we have lunch, I’m back to my desk by 1, and I work nonstop until it’s time to leave at 3:20 to pick the kids up. He’s at his desk all day unless we take lunch together and walk. I’m in and out.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you really work all day or do you find yourself doing other things because I’d never get anything done if I worked from home?

Let me be clear; working from home is not for everyone. You must be disciplined. Craig works for someone else, so he has hours he needs to work – and he does not leave his desk unless he needs another cup of coffee or he is getting something to eat or we are taking lunch together. I work for myself, so my schedule is definitely flexible, but I also have a rigid schedule working around the kids and working out. We aren’t distracted.

We are surprisingly good at not allowing things to distract us. We’re in our office, so we can’t see the rest of the house to be distracted. We have no television in our office. We are tidy people, so there’s nothing that needs our attention throughout the house. We keep the laundry done every day, dishes are washed as they’re used or put in the dishwasher, the kids pick up their things before they go to school. Everything is always clean, so there’s nothing to distract us.

I don’t have to be in my office all day long, but I have contracts with my clients. I’m paid not only by word, but also by the quality of my content as well as my ability to meet all my deadlines. If I take time off during the day, I’m making it up that night. I don’t love that, so I don’t do that often. I don’t get vacation or sick days. We love to travel and do so often, but I’m working double, nights, weekends, skipping my workouts, and even cancelling other plans to get work done so we can travel, and I don’t have to take my computer with.

Running a business is a 24/7 job, but I love it. I’m disciplined like you would not believe, and so is Craig. It takes serious work ethic to get up at 5 am every morning and get into your office even when you don’t ‘have’ to. I try so hard not to work at night or on the weekends so I can spend that time with my family and keep a healthy work/life balance, but it’s almost always impossible. I love what I do, so it’s hard for me to put it down.

  1. What’s the worst thing about working from home?

Um…I want to eat all day. That’s a struggle. The biggest struggle is other people. I think it’s hard for some people to understand that our jobs are no different than theirs other than we’re doing it from home rather than from someone else’s office, so we are not free all day long. We can’t just stop what we are doing to answer the door for people and let them kill an hour because they’re between appointments and have nothing else to do, or help them with their errands, or whatever. I get it, but it’s an interruption of our workday. We both have calls, we both have deadlines, we both have things we need to have done at a certain time during the day; and we can’t just stop. It’s hard to explain that to people (and I’m sitting here waiting on a call from my mom asking me if it’s her…it is).

The other problem is days off of school. When the kids don’t have school on a day like today and they’re all home – struggle. It’s hard when it’s two kids, but it’s impossible when it’s all four. I usually have to find a creative way to get things done all day while they’re home, and it’s a problem. Love them, but omg.

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  1. Why do you get dressed every day if you don’t have to?

All right – so, yes, I do get dressed every day. Craig – nope. He’s gone from suit and tie for 16 years to basically wearing nothing but basketball shorts and tees all day long unless we’re going somewhere and he puts on real clothes. I get dressed every morning. Even on mornings I work out right after dropping the kids off, I still put on real clothes when I go pick the kids up. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without dressing. I love fashion, I love to look nice, and I never leave the house without hair and makeup. I don’t love the way I feel when my hair and makeup are not done, and I find it puts me in a bad mood if I feel sloppy or lazy.

But in the interest of being transparent, I don’t leave my clothes on all day. If you see me on Instagram in the morning with a pair of five-inch Manolos on my feet, it’s because that’s what I’m wearing that day. I’m not dishonest about my OOTD posts, but I’m not in it all day. I’m literally naked about three seconds after I walk in the door until I can get to the bathroom to get my robe. I’m in my robe all day long working. Clothes on the leave the house, robe the rest of the day. It’s my jam, and I’m not ashamed of that.

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  1. Are you totally crazy in the house all the time?

No! Are you kidding me? I would literally never leave my house if I didn’t have to leave my house. I’m a total recluse. The real struggle for me is making myself leave. I get to so comfortable at home, and I never want to leave. I love our home so much, and I just want to stay home and enjoy it. But…I force myself to leave the house so we can keep a healthy balance for the kids and for ourselves.

  1. Does your marriage struggle because you work together, you live together, you spend all your time together?

Not at all! Do you know how hard it is to be unhappy when you both love what you do and when your husband is so happy? He loves his job so much, and he is so happy not missing out on all the things he missed out on before. He spent 15 years driving an hour to work, an hour home from work, not seeing the kids before he left in the morning and seeing them for less than an hour at night when he got home.

We passed one another in the night three or four nights a week because of the kids and their practice schedules, and date nights weren’t so frequent because while we loved them, Craig had so little time with the kids and it was so hard for me to expect him to spend more time away from them. He was stressed about it, I was stressed about it; that’s gone now. No commute means signing off at 5 pm and getting to go outside with the kids and ride bikes, talk the golf cart out, play in the yard, and just spend time together. It’s so much better living this life without those stresses. He’s happier, I’m happier, the kids LOVE it. It’s good.

There you have it. For us, it’s what’s good. It’s not something that will work for everyone, and that’s what makes us all so cool. We can do what works for us and live the lives we want. Working from home is a challenge, but I can’t imagine living any other way.

6 Easy Tools to Set the Tone for A Great Week Ahead

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Bottomless mimosas overlooking the bay in Tampa followed by a day of shopping til we dropped with my favorite person by my side is my idea of a gorgeous day. Any day with my husband, best friend, partner in crime, built-in comedian is a gorgeous day – only made more gorgeous by the fact our four sweet little ones were with Nana for the day and we got to enjoy an entire day by ourselves doing grownup things (like using the restroom alone). That’s how we spent our day last Sunday. It was nice.

Monday, on the other hand, was not so nice.

It was a chaotic morning.

I don’t like chaotic mornings.

I like order and efficiency, and I like not being exhausted.

Monday sets the tone for my week, and that’s why I work hard on Sundays to make sure Mondays are good days. With four kids, a business to run, a husband to love, a house to care for, a busy travel schedule, and a busy social life, I don’t get a lot of down time, but I’ve found I really crave downtime more than anything else. I need Sundays “off” or the rest of my week is a mess.

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Ah, Mondays. So many people view them as negative, but I don’t hate them. I’ve said it before, but I really do believe Monday is a lovely day (can you tell I like schedule and routine?) and it’s a personal choice to make it that. There are so many articles on the internet telling us how to make Mondays better days, to conquer the day, to wake up, kick ass, take names, and repeat.

I like it.

But I’m a bigger believer that sometimes it’s taking the time to make the entire week count that works in our favor. Motivation Monday is here, y’all – and I’m sharing just a few of my favorite ways to begin my week on a killer note (read: well-rested, happy, and excited).

Make Sunday Count

I’m basically always tired, because I have four kids and I spend 16 hours a day doing, doing, doing, doing, doing, and the other eight sleeping. I don’t sit down except when I’m at my desk in my office – and we all know that doesn’t count. There is no rest for the weary in this house, my friends. That’s why we made the decision to make Sundays count. We were getting sick all the time, and we knew it was because we were overdoing it. We decided it was imperative to take one day to plan nothing and rest. Sundays are for rest.

  • Sleep in
  • Go to church
  • Relax
  • Rest
  • Play

Sunday counts because it’s our family day. We do was we want to do, how we want to do it, and we allow the day to be nothing but ours. It means the kids are in bed early, we have time to prep for Monday, and we are in bed early. When we do have plans on a Sunday, Monday sucks. When Sunday feels rushed and busy and it’s not relaxing, Monday is a beast.

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Get Ready for the Week

I like to spend 15 – 20 minutes in my office on a Sunday evening while the kids are winding down and cleaning their rooms to prep my calendar for the week. I take note of what’s in there, make my list of things to do Monday morning, and I go ahead and organize and prep a few things to help me get started faster and more efficiently in the morning.

We also like to make sure we wake up on a Monday morning with no laundry, no dirty dishes, no mess. Okay, okay, okay; we wake up every morning like that because I’m an anal-retentive neat freak who cannot handle messiness or disarray. BUT…believe me when I say spending 15 minutes each night tag-teaming the dishes, floors, countertops, and laundry is worth every second.

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Invest In Quality Tools  

Whatever you do, do it with items that help you stay focused and motivated. For me, it’s my Lilly Pulitzer agenda that helps me stay motivated. It’s also my Erin Condren notebook for making short-term to-do lists. I also love my dry-erase wall calendar for keeping the family schedule (color coded, of course) next to my desk so I can keep track of all the schedules at my desk.

When you have the right tools, work is easier, and simpler to manage. We all want to be more effective, and the right tools make all the difference.

Get Up With the Alarm

I won’t lie – I do sometimes let the 5 alarm go and sleep until the 5:30 alarm as the weeks wears on. But, I never let the alarm go off on a Monday morning with a snooze. I find that Monday is easier when I get up right away and spend no time lounging. I feel more productive, more energized, and just plain better about the day.

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Get Dressed

Wanna know a secret? I am happier without pants – and I spend most of the day in my favorite little red and black robe. I get dressed to take my kids to school, but I strip it down and get back into my robe the second I get home. Rest assured that every Instagram post, every blog post, every moment of my day I’m not out of my house, I’m in a cute little robe.

But – Monday mornings are for getting dressed. I choose a cute dress and jewelry, get myself together, and pretend I’m a responsible adult who has a plan for the day. It helps get me more motivated. When I feel good about how I look, I am in a much better mood. When I’m in a good mood, it’s easy for me to motivate myself.

Read Something Motivational

I cannot tell you how easy it is to start the day on a Monday morning with good intentions and a great tone when you start with something motivational. When I get out of the shower and pour my first cup of coffee, I immediately sit down on the couch in the dark quiet of my house and ready my First 5 app.

I peruse social media for a few moments, and then I head to Pinterest and read motivational quotes and articles. I love Instagram to read the inspiring blog posts, the great marketing and business tips, and the wonderful posts from my blogger friends and the amazing communities I’ve become a part of over the past few years.

There’s no right or wrong way to start your day to make Monday a good one, but it does help to remember you’re not just starting your Monday off on the right foot. You’re setting the tone for the entire week.

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What do you do to prep for Monday so you can have a good week? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!