You have likely heard the saying that a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. My office is not dirty by any means but it is not super organized. I have stacks of papers, lots of file folders, and a few random things that truly do not belong in my office like the needle nose pliers that have been sitting on top of my file cabinet for close to a month now. There’s also a yellow bug lite, still in the green box, just to the right of one of my monitors. Why it is there I cannot tell you. I know (for the most part) where everything is in my office. If I need a particular file I can usually go right to it. Bills? Those are in the horizontal organizer to the left. Things requiring follow-up? To the right of my desk on the gray table.
Albert Einstein is quoted as having said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” We may believe that it would be easier to create and work in an area that is clean and organized but what if the opposite were true?
Psychologist Kathleen Vohs, University of Minnesota, tested a variety of working conditions. Among her conclusions is this:
“Disorderly environments seem stop inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”
The other side to interpreting the meaning behind a messy desk is that it is reflective of one’s life. Is your car a mess? Is your bedroom and home? Is your relationship a mess? Is your spiritual life a mess? If you experience far more than a messy desk, perhaps it is time to consider putting things in order. File away the old things, shred the useless stuff, and follow-through on the important items.
Whether a messy desk or a neat desk, I encourage you to take time every now and again to ask yourself, “is my work area reflective of what’s going on in my personal life?” and if changes need to occur, take a time out and straighten things up. You’ll find that things work better when you do.