Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Does a Clean Desk Mean to You?

I feel like I spent the first twenty years of my life listening to my mom telling me to clean up my room and a good portion of the next twenty listening to roommates, officemates, etc. talk about the condition of my home and office.  Since I had my son, I have one room he is allowed to do anything he wants to. At 21 months he is finally figuring out our "put things away" game and I don't have to spend his naps and after he goes to bed cleaning up.  But over the last few months, I've increasingly yearned for a clean desk at work and a clean office, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom at home.  Maybe it is the uncertainty, craziness, and change in my life combined with the increasing number of ideas and goals running through my head, but I just want a place for everything and everything in its place.

It doesn't exactly stress me out that it isn't there yet, and I move forward a little every week so I am not overwhelmed with the project.  But it has got me thinking.  If a packrat like me who has never been a neat freak can feel this way about clutter, what does it do emotionally to someone for whom neatness and organization is important?  It must drive them crazy!  Do they naturally associate it with a cluttered (and not useful mind)?  Has my cluttered desk over the years been a billboard that says "Overwhelmed: Can't Handle Anymore, Look for Another Superstar."  Truth be told, I've always kind of felt that anyone with a clean desk probably didn't have enough work to do.

I would love to hear from neat freaks and horizontal organizers (everything on the desk but you know what is where) about what the sight of someone else's desk tells you about them.  What judgements do we unknowingly (or knowingly) make about someone who has a different process than we do?  How can we break this cycle and try to understand if not appreciate the differences.  Does it matter if people are in their own office or out in an open work environment?  Chime in!