Are you the kind of person who thinks a messy desk makes you look busy and important?

I should admit from the outset that this topic is one that is very close to my own heart. When I posted the poll on Facebook last week – How do you like your desk: Streamlined Order or Organised Chaos?one of my ex-colleagues left a comment along the lines of “Kate has the neatest, most clutter-free desk I have ever seen in my entire life”. 

To further illustrate this, do you know what I spent two hours doing last night? Pulling out each and every CD I own (a couple of hundred) (yes, I have CDs, I am that old. I even have LPs … far out), deciding which ones I did not want any more, and then putting the rest back again in neatly stacked columns, but not before grouping CDs by the same artist together, of course. 

Sure, this might be an extreme example, but I know I am not alone in my quest for an orderly existence. 

68% of respondents to last week’s poll said they like their work desk to be kept in “streamlined order”, whiles 32% said their work desk more closely resembled “organised chaos”. 

Now, I think the word “organised” in the latter option is interesting to note. As one respondent said (a trifle defensively, perhaps, but still), “To an outsider looking in my desk may seem chaotic, however, there is an order and a working system in the organised chaos. Volume of work creates that outcome sometimes, and I think streamlined order can reflect not enough work and too much time to tidy.” Along the same lines, another responded, “although I have paperwork and piles everywhere I know where everything is.” Yet another resorted to the old chestnut, “a clean desk is sign of a sick mind”. What is that about? I much prefer “tidy desk, tidy mind”. 

Are you the kind of person who thinks a messy desk makes you look busy and important? Consider what your desk says about you, and the impact it has upon your productivity. If I had to waste time trying to find things 75 times a day, I would get less done, be more stressed, waste more time, and cost my boss more money. 

“According to OfficeTeam, a US-based recruitment specialist, a messy desk could reflect poorly on your professional reputation. Polling more than 500 human resources managers, the survey found that 83% of those surveyed felt the appearance of an employee’s workspace affected how they perceived that person’s professionalism … ‘A tidy desk won’t necessarily boost your career, but a messy one can leave a bad impression on colleagues,’ says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. ‘By taking simple steps to organise your workspace, you also will be able to find materials more easily and increase your productivity.’” [Source

Of course there are different levels of disorder. A few piles of paper and folders is one thing, but this:

is quite another.

I mean, if you work alone, fine – do what you want. But, as always when working with others, it is about striking a balance between conducting our work in a style that suits our preferences with not impacting or encroaching negatively upon the work spaces and preferences of others. Considerate behaviour, in other words. What a revelation!

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