“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” -Albert Einstein
Einstein is of course a genius, but on desk organization? Take a quick stroll around your office and answer this question for me: do you see more cluttered or clear desks? Neat freaks might automatically assume that those with papers strewn, cups half full of coffee, and what looks to be no sense of organization are on the messy side.
“How can they work like that?,” they might think to themselves. However, we all know what assuming makes… (won’t get into that). I’m here to give some insight on how to make your desk work best with your work style and tendencies and give recognition to both the cluttered crew and the neat team for a bit of vindication.
Multiple studies have been conducted to see the outcomes of creative and productive work on a messy or clean desk. Turns out, there are benefits to both, so don’t go throwing papers around to try and look more messy to become instantly more productive, or immediately shove things off to look cleaner and obtain a burst of creativity.
- 1. a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass
Sorry Merriam‐Webster, but more recent research has updated this definition to say clutter is made up of items we keep that do not serve any purpose. E.g., those old newspapers you could file or recycle, that dated How-To book when you can get all the information from Google, and documents that can be scanned for electronic filing instead of taking up precious desk space.
The key is to toss this clutter, then organize how you normally would (or wouldn’t), which leads to your best work style and tendencies. It all comes down to your “clutter style.” If you work best messy or neat, that’s just you! No reason to meticulously maintain your workspace to how you *think* it should be. Controlling your desk in a way that’s unnatural to you will eventually lead to more time spent distracted trying to keep it neat when you’re really not, or hunting for documents in an environment that’s much too cluttered for your liking.
Keep in Mind
Whether you identify as clean or cluttered, you can still make your life and your coworkers’ lives easier. Keep any extremely important or private documents filed in a place you’ll remember, either physically or electronically. This will save you time and keep your information safe from wandering eyes.
Desks at Roberts
Jill is famous on the account team for her unique take on organization. Please note the neat piles. “It’s organized chaos for sure,” she said.
Alyssa maintains a clear spot on the corner for guests. “This might look bad, but I can always find what I need in two seconds,” she said.
Here’s a photo of my desk. And this is after a little tidying up. I definitely work better in a neat environment.
Last but not least, a photo of Einstein‘s desk, if you were wondering.
Don’t let studies claiming that a neat desk or a messy desk is better for your natural workflow. Keep unnecessary items off your desk to avoid clutter, maintain one spot for your most important documents so you never waste time looking for them, and file confidential materials off your desk. Your creativity and productivity should then come naturally. Find your own kind of peace and enjoy and thrive in your workspace. Namaste.