Yesterday, my plan was to get to my classroom, grade some papers, make copies of a poem I wanted to share with my juniors, and answer some emails. 

But life intervened.

As I set my stuff down in my classroom after walking through the door, a student burst in needing help with a computer issue.  Mere moments after he was gone, the English department chairperson came in to pick up the Chromebook cart. In the process of transferring the cart, we chatted about how the district’s decision to end the semester the following year at Winter Break, rather than at the end of January, which is where it ends now.  When I returned from a bathroom break (an activity, as teachers know, that is dictated entirely by the bell schedule), I realized there were only eight minutes left until my first class began and not one of my original goals had been addressed.

Looking around, I thought:  what can I do in eight minutes?  What will give me a sense of peace, space, and accomplishment?  So I cleaned my desk.  Many other things needed to be done, but I knew I couldn’t do them in eight minutes. But if my desk was clean (and by clean, I mean cleared off), I could move forward with a lack of clutter and a simpler vision.  

Though only one surface in a world of chaos and clutter, in six and a half minutes it was clear.

I learned yesterday that when you’re overwhelmed and you can’t seem to make headway or get any traction in your day, it pays to look around and ask what one thing would make a difference if it were done? 

Then do that thing.

Think of it as a catchy little metaphor: When in doubt, clean the desk. TZT