The Paradox of Clean Desk Syndrome and the Mind of a Productive Creative – Daily Quote

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk_ Laurence J. Peter

Once upon a time, I worked for a boss who held one core workplace belief. He maintained that a clean desk was the sign of a productive worker. He often walked around the office after hours, leaving notes for people instructing them to clean up their act. Thankfully, I never received his scathing reminder. The office manager gave me a helpful heads-up. I’m not a messy, clutter-producing, nick-knack-loving, office supply hoarding type of person. Instead, I tend toward the more neat and tidy side of life. Still, when I am working on various projects, things can look as if they are out of control.

I work on a pile system. Almost without looking, I can locate the exact document I need from the proper stack. Files with essential documents, post-it notes with directions, comments, ideas, and reminders, litter my desktop. My favorite pens, highlighters, markers, paperclips, and binder clips live where I can reach them without thinking. Controlled chaos reigns during my major project sessions. Business means you are working on multiple mission-critical projects every day. When I complete a project, the white tornado rolls through town and puts everything in its place. In a perfect world, I would have left everything where it lay each evening, but that would not have passed muster with the clean desk patrol.

I needed a solution to keep everyone happy and allow me to work in my preferred manner. I opted to enact an elaborate subterfuge scheme. Fifteen minutes before quitting time, I would carefully move each pile and place them in a side drawer, separated by brightly colored folders. My top drawer became the dedicated night-time home for smaller items. Each morning, I spent the first few minutes drinking coffee and resetting my stage. The work-around amounted to two-and-a-half hours of unproductive staging time every week. I wonder if he ever realized he was paying me to rearrange so much paper.

How do you maintain your work area?


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

9 thoughts on “The Paradox of Clean Desk Syndrome and the Mind of a Productive Creative – Daily Quote

  1. How interesting… I was just working on my desk this AM thinking I needed to get to the filing, so my mind could THINK. I often have piles of paper too. My mind THINKS if I put things away too neatly, I will forget about things I need to do. But sometimes, I just need to deal with the pile. TODAY was the day.

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