Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today's fortune: November 23, 2011

Today's fortune: You are careful and systematic in your business arrangements.

Yes, but only after years and years of trial and error... heavy on the error.

I used to be much sloppier in my work habits. Newspaper editors are notorious for having messy desks, and I was no exception. Editors receive lots of papers, and it's difficult to make all of them find the trash can; stray notes, press releases, books, magazines, brochures and notebooks are strewn across most editors' desks.

Two of the most embarrassing moments of my career came because of a messy desk. The first happened when the mayor of a fairly large city walked into my office unannounced. I had actually just been cleaning my office, but two huge trash bags sat in the corner of the room and the cleaning job wasn't anywhere near finished. The second incident broke me of the bad habit. One day the publisher, a man who I held in the highest respect until a few years later when he misplaced his spine, walked into my office, sat down on the couch and said, "Matt, we have to talk. You gotta do something about this office."

I blushed with embarrassment and felt bad for letting him down. I made a vow then and there to not let it get that bad again. That night I asked Jamie to come in and help me clean it, and we made it pristine. The next day the publisher gathered the entire staff into my office to admire our handiwork.

Ever since then, I've kept to my vow, and I've kept my desk fairly neat - or at least I've tidied it up on a regular basis. And although I'm out of the newspaper biz, I continue to keep a neat desk at work, and even my desk at home is clean except for a few random fortune cookies.

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