by Ken Walker

While it’s late April, it’s not too late to do some spring cleaning. Toss out those unused files and sift through all the “what-if’s” and “pending” papers that have been sitting there for several years.

It took me a while to accomplish that task this year, but it was worth it. Being able to see my desk again for the first time in three years has been freeing. With less clutter in front of me, I feel better able to tackle each day’s tasks and plan the next day, next week, or next month.

I’m serious when I say this is the first time in three years I’ve been able to see my desk. The last time came in the midst of a major effort to reorganize my business. I started by sifting through a huge stack of manila folders that I keep on the left side of my desk—a combination of ongoing client work, prospective jobs, blogging ideas, and assorted minutiae.

That required combing through each folder, including one for a church resource web site. I discovered five years had passed since I had emailed several fellow bloggers about their editing needs. Inspired, I emailed them again to ask if things had changed.

While most of those notes producing nothing, I got a referral that resulted in a sample editing payment, even though the author ultimately hired someone with more experience in her field. I also maintain ongoing contact with the person who referred her to me.

Even better, I reduced the stack of folders significantly. Still, I left a crucial part of the task undone. While I cleaned off three-fourths of my desk, I left an assorted pile of papers, books, reference articles, and that ever-present minutiae on the right quarter section. My work picked up that year, and I never quite got around to finishing.

Finally, after what I think was the busiest autumn of my freelance career, and an equally hectic start to 2017, I found myself with a Saturday and no need to spend several hours working to catch up with tasks on that week’s schedule.

Although I had something to write for a local non-profit, before beginning I impulsively started sifting through the “stuff” covering the right side of my desk.

I shelved the dozen or so books that had slowly accumulated there. I discovered a DVD a co-author had loaned me because of a defect in my copy, and put it the mail. I tossed about 90 percent of the papers I looked at, wondering why in the world I had kept them in the first place.

Actually, I know the answer to that question. I’m a pack rat, and when I get overrun by work, I tend to push clean-up projects to the side. Chances are, some of you are just like me. Fight that tendency! When you don’t feel overwhelmed by the mess in front of you, your mind will be clearer too.


Experienced. Award-winning. Skilled. For years, Ken Walker has been shaping stories—thousands of them—for books and articles in various venues. He uses his writing and editing talent now to help edit and refine authors’ material, as well as coaching bloggers and other writers on how they can improve their material. In recent years Ken has co-authored or edited more than a dozen health-oriented books. This specialty began with co-authoring Winning the Food Fight, a book that emerged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, an Emmy-Award-winning mini-series on ABC.