Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clean or Messy?

Yesterday was National Clean Off your Desk Day. That got me to thinking... Is it true that a messy desk is the sign of a cluttered unproductive worker? Does that hold true for we creative and artsy types? I wonder. I found several articles in business magazines that suggest a messy desk is equal to career suicide. Personal pictures...never. Stacks of could you. The best news I saw however was from Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman who had this GOOD thing to say about a messy desk.
"Mess isn't necessarily the absence of order," Abrhamson and Freedman claim.
"A messy desk can be a highly effective prioritizing and accessing system.
In general, on a messy desk, the more important, urgent work tends to stay
close by and near the top of the clutter, while the safely ignorable stuff
tends to get buried to the bottom or near the back, which makes perfect
sense. The various piles on a messy desk can represent a surprisingly sophisticated informal filing system that offer far more efficiency and flexibility than a filing cabinet could possibly provide."

Abrahamson and Freedman wrote the book "A Perfect Mess" which claims to reveal the hidden benefits of being unorganized and cluttered.
Balance that then with information from the University of Texas study that shows that people with messy offices are less efficient, less organized and less imaginative then people with clean offices. Even the FBI has known for decades that you can judge people by their workspace, which is why the FBI has special investigators who visit the offices of criminals, apparently just to see how messy their desks are. Does this mean that if my desk is messy I'm more likely to be a criminal? I found that particularly ironic in light of the article I found on Martha Stewarts website about uncluttering your desk....nuff said.
What I want is to hear from you my fellow you fall under the clean or messy desk club? No judgements...just curiousity.
As for me, basically I'm a paper stacker/pile maker kind of desk person, who looks longingly at those clean desk photos and says, "That's SO NOT reality!" by: aplusastudio


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Cheryl Oz said...

i think it's the nature of what we do. i know when i'm working on a project, i can't be bothered with cleaning up until i'm finished. But, i do like to start with a clean slate - especially if i'm working with a different medium. an artist needs her space. ;o)

Orange Cat Art said...

I am in a perpetual state of needing to clean up. A clean desk does feel better, but sometimes there are more important things to do!

sassypackrat said...

I'm totally the messy desk type. Once I get on a roll working I like to have everything I need right there in reach so things tend to pile up. But if I'm starting something new or am anxious a clean desk helps to clear the mind.

Atticelf said...

Instead of the term messy I like to use "creative chaos".

I'm with sassypackrat...I like everything out where I can see it and grab it when working on a project.

The surface of my desk rarely sees the light until a big project is completed and I put everything away.

The Paper Flower Shop said...

Definitely like to be on the orderly side, especially when beginning a project. But, the daily reality of my craft and household office space is almost always messy, or as I like to call it: organized chaos. :)

Molly said...

My natural mode is messy. Very, very messy! Lots of things in process strewn about haphazardly.

HOWEVER, I've discovered that I'm a lot happier and a ton more efficient if I am organized, if I have a nice clean desk space ready for me when I want to craft, if I know exactly where everything is and if things are organized in such a way to minimize wasted motion.

I recently did a crafty space makeover on my crafty nook ( and I have to say that it's made all the difference in the world to me! Things are so much easier now!

I still lapse into messiness ALL THE TIME, but when I take the time to pick things up and use the systems that I've set up, things are a lot easier and I spend a lot more time able to craft and less time hunting for things and feeling frustrated!


Ankhs said...

My work area goes through stages: either clean and void of personality, or messy but having all important things prioritized. I will start a new project with a clean area, though :)