Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Clean Your Desk, Clear Your Mind?

I'm not an obsessively neat person, and I can always tolerate a certain amount of clutter, but I do appreciate it when my living space - especially my desk - is kept relatively tidy.  However, I have an unfortunate tendency to take items out of the drawers of my desk or out of the cupboard - notebooks, pens, papers, scissors, rulers, etc. - and then not put them back again.  Slowly, these items begin to pile up on the surface of my desk.  At first, because these are the items that I use most frequently, it is convenient to have them within easy reach and not have to open a drawer every time I want to use a particular pen.

This is an old photo.  My desk is not nearly this tidy right now.
But as the pile accumulates, my to-do list ends up somewhere near the bottom and the pile becomes more of a hindrance rather than a convenience.  As the physical clutter in my surroundings grows, it feels that my mental "clutter" increases as well.  It becomes harder to get anything done.  I become more likely to procrastinate or spend hours flipping through web pages rather than writing or getting something worthwhile done.  As the clutter builds, my productivity declines.

Finally, though, I simply can't stand it anymore, and I take however long I need to stow all of the accumulated items away in their places, vowing that I will never let it happen again, although of course I always do.  And when the surface of my desk is clean, I feel inspired, focused, motivated, and productive again.

Have you experienced something similar?  Do you work better when your surroundings are relatively clutter-free?  If so, how do you keep your desk tidy?  Or are you one of those people who seem to need a certain amount of clutter in order to get anything done?

10 comments:

  1. Clutter concerning a particular project while I'm working on it doesn't bother me but, like you, if the clutter takes over it seems to effect my thinking, too. My very brain feels disorganized--LOL!

    I'd definitely have to have some kind of container or cup on that desk to hold the scissors, pens, ruler, etc. That way they're on hand and yet have a place they belong and are easy to put back. Whenever there are things I am constantly having to take in and out--I find a way to store them out where they're handy. I think of it as being efficiently lazy. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am the opposite: Many of my friends envy me for my tidyness, but sometimes it is not deliberately, as I HAVE to clean up my desk after I sat down (for a longer period of time, say, an evening). Even if I know I will need certain things again next day and I could leave those where they are I have to at least build stacks. It may not sound bad but with that I lose a lot of time with packing things around even if it is not necessary.

    (short answer: put everything away immediately after work. let it become your second nature to not leave until everything is in its place. it only takes a few moments every time and you always get a fresh start as you sit down. but ... see above!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, Julie! I think you offered the best tip here with your suggestion to put everything away immediately after using it. That would probably keep my desk a lot tidier if I could stick to a habit like that. Sadly, that is one of those very simple things to do that is even easier to procrastinate about than it is to do!

      Delete
  3. Here I am, waiving my hand madly while nodding vigorously in the back of the room. Oh YEAH! I feel the same way. And not just my desk or art table. The kitchen, the bathroom counter, my dresser, etc. I clean them up and make the same vow. For 50+ years now. Arge!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have the same problem... Every time I'm telling myself that I'll start putting things away right after using it, but I guess I'm not programmed that way 'cause all of my good intentions quickly die every time...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Found you through @tigerpens on Twitter who mistook me for you since my name's also Heather and I recently did a pen review of my own, figured I'd come check out your blog. Apparently I really dig pen reviews now because I can't seem to stop reading. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather! I'm glad you found me, and that's kind of funny about the mistaken identity. Those pen reviews do get rather addictive, don't they? Have fun reading and good luck with your own reviews!

      Delete
  6. I've heard two theories: (1) a cleaned-up work space indicates industriousness, (2) a cluttered-up work space indicates industriousness. I go through phases, leaving my desk (and kitchen table) littered with papers and writing gear for weeks, then I'll clean up. No real rationale as to why and when.

    Corporate CEOs, government leaders, and wealthy folks have the problem licked. They have an immaculate public office for ceremonial purposes, and a private office for work. Jack/Ohio

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can't concentrate or enjoy myself unless my surroundings are at least somewhat neat and organized. So even if I have multiple things out, they're stacked neatly, organized by color/size, or confined by a box/cup. It's a little frustrating because often I end up spending more time satisfying my OCD than actually doing whatever it is I wanted to do. :P

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with these issues. It looks like most people also struggle with maintaining a tidy workplace, and finding some sort of balance between allowing stuff to accumulate and periodically cleaning things up. Procrastination seems to be a major reason why we let things build up like that, and I know it is definitely one of the things that I struggle a lot with myself.

    Again, thanks for the response and comments! It is great to read your opinions.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...