Neat — or not?
ORGANIZATION: As the saying goes, “A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind.” But is this true? Does having a tidy desk mean you will work more efficiently? Not necessarily, say some organizational experts.
Professor Eric Abrahamson, of Columbia Business School, told the Financial Times that “a moderately messy desk has the advantage of juxtaposing different things in ways that make it possible to see new, creative connections”. He says that time spent tidying might be better spent doing more productive tasks.
Abrahamson, co-author of A Perfect Mess, notes that people who are meticulous about keeping their desks tidy are often less open to new experiences. “People with these traits tend to spend more time organizing their desk than benefits them,” he explains. “Their opposites spend too little. For most people, trial and error works just fine, unless they live under the illusion that order is costless and that more order is always better.”
"For most people, trial and error works fine unless they live under the illusion that more order is always better." Eric Abrahamson
Jeremy Myerson, director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art in London, says that piles of paper on a desk can be distracting. He tries to have something attractive on his desk to look at, and keeps clutter out of sight.
Myerson adds that the “clean desk” policy of some companies is difficult for many. “I feel sorry for messy people forced into having an empty desk,” he says. On the other hand, tidy people suffer if they have to share space with messier colleagues. In this case, Myerson suggests placing small plants on desks to designate individual spaces.
Even more important than the desk is the office view, according to Myerson, who is the author of a book on office design called Life of Work. “What is the point of having a gorgeous desk in a dingy basement?” he asks.