Keeping a tidy desk

In which desk clutter is a symptom of a cluttered mind.

Tidy Desk at work

The issue with my empty desk top is not that it is super-tidy, at some points it can be stupidly messy covered in pieces of paper and random parts of calculations, but that it is empty. At the end of each days work I am able to clear everything away and for all intents appear like I don’t even exist.

This applies equally, and more so, for my work desk. I’ve been told by countless managers that the appearance of my desk makes it look like I either have left or don’t do any work. Mostly the don’t do any work, but it does make the process of leaving a job easy.

It’s not that I’m naturally a tidy person. Ask Ma GeekErgoSum, she will have plenty of anecdotes about the state of my bedroom when I was younger (especially the ‘science’ experiments) and currently the Maison G is a bit of a mess. This is the reason I need to maintain order around my workspace.

Like all closed systems, and my desk at times certainly feels like one – even though now I can just see the gleamings of the outside world, there is a tendency to go from order to chaos. Adding paper to the mix just increases the rate at which this happens. A pile of paper will collapse quicker than a perfectly built Professor Brian sandcastle.

So to prevent the paper death of the universe I have to maintain a very clean and empty desk, it’s basically a work based vacuum. The fact everything is at the correct angle is purely personal, it’s the paraphernalia I have the problem with. Do I need a set of filing trays to store any emails I’ve printed off? Should I keep months-old memos?

For those that say they do I like to put it to the test. When I am in the office alone I randomly remove one piece of paper from all those stored on desks and wait to see if any complains that they have lost something. Nobody ever has.

I once was able to store a dirty plate in an in tray for 2 months before that person found it.

We don’t need all the crap around us, what is it there for? If it’s there to make us look busy then once again work is all about appearances as opposed to achievements. Like staying late (as one manager told me “I don’t care if you start work an hour early – the directors don’t come in till 10am so will never see that, so you should stay late to keep up appearances”) it seems that we respect those who are the most chaoticand cluttered because “Jees, they must be busy”.

No, they are untidy and disorganised not rushed off their feet.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Clean Slate.”

Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?

Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

2 thoughts on “Keeping a tidy desk”

  1. Many years ago I worked in a bank where the Chairman insisted that all desks (even in the back office areas) had to be clear at the end of the day. It’s a habit I have kept in my work area to this day. I can’t say the same for my home desk.


    1. Think of it this way…you would tidy up your desk at home when you leave to go home, but as you never go home from home you don’t need to…this is the argument I use for our home desk being messy!


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