Right now my desk is a complete mess. Now I have a pretty good excuse. I am in the middle of switching over to a new laptop. I’m also in the middle of trying to switch from AT&T to Sprint for cell phone service. An order of sample gifts for clients just came in yesterday. I have rebates from sales that are partially filled out and waiting for additional documentation that is on the way. I’m working with a graphic designer on a new logo, so I have samples stuck to my walls. I don’t want to throw away any of the boxes for my new equipment so they are all stuffed under the desk or on a bookshelf. Etc. etc.
I’d like to say that the picture above is just something I found on Flickr. It isn’t. That is my desk at this very moment.
In looking at my desk I realized that most of the clutter comes from problems with my system. Obviously adding an extra computer, 2 keyboards, 3 mice, 4 cell phones and everything else will fill up my desk, but there are still items on my desk that are just there because I haven’t put them away.
When your desk is the messiest is the best time to evaluate your organization system. Here are the problems I’ve discovered with my organization system:
- I used to keep my pocket stuff (wallet, keys, etc.) on a space on a bookshelf. Over time I’ve filled the bookshelf space and these items have migrated to my desk. I need to rearrange the bookshelf or find another place for them.
- The drawer on my file cabinet is sticking. As a result I don’t like to try to open it any more than I have to and papers have started accumulating on my desk to be filed. This wasn’t as much of a problem when the drawer worked correctly. It is time to admit that the $15 file cabinet from Wal-mart just isn’t going to meet my needs.
- Various items have migrated to my desk over time that belong elsewhere. Right now I have a tire gauge that belongs in the car, two quarters that belong in the car for paying tolls, a memory card of unknown origins that fits nothing I own, and a grocery card that probably belongs in my wife’s wallet. The problem isn’t that this stuff is here. The problem is that it has been here for too long. I tend to empty my pockets before sitting down to work for a long stretch. I need to establish a routine where I can put this type of stuff where I will take it back out with me when I leave (and hopefully put it where it belongs).
- I thought I was being very smart by creating a folder on my computer for rebates and putting all the related documents in the folder. It appears that I also need a paper folder because I need a place to physically collect things while I rip the front pages off of manuals, cut out UPC symbols, etc. The folder on my hard drive is making things easier, but a lot of the rebate forms are still easier to fill out using a pen.
So now you’ve seen my desk at its messiest.
Originally published in 2007.
Rebecca M says
Is it bad that I take a certain amount of pleasure in knowing that your desk does get messy once in awhile? ;-) Your “causes” resonate loudly for me.
Mark Shead says
@Rebecca – I figured at least a few people would enjoy the picture. :)
Neil Kelty says
Now, those rebate forms shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. Why not just get them done right away?
If you can’t scan them into your computer and print them off 30 days later when you need them, but I’d just get it done right away.
Mark Shead says
@Neil – Four of the rebates were for software where I hadn’t been shipped the right product, so I was waiting for it to come in the mail. The second batch of rebates was for cell phones. We had switched to a new carrier and tested their service for 30 days, only to find out that they were not able to transfer over our numbers as promised. I had to wait until I had our permanent numbers before sending off the rebate forms.
As soon as I had everything required I immediately sent them out. Some of the items required actual box top, etc. So even though I scanned it, I had to physically keep some of the paper around.
Neil Kelty says
I know what you mean.
As much as I hate to admit it – my desk looks about the same at the moment. Although, the desk is clear my inbox is about two feet high, literally. Not all with papers mind that.
It’s on my list of to do over the Christmas break. Only 3 more days until I dig in hard for two weeks of catch up. Then I can really enjoy myself!
Keep up the good work.
Mark Shead says
@Neil – I’ve fortunately recovered from most of what was in that picture. I still need to get all the wires routed for my new computer, but at least the paperwork is cleared off my desk now.
So what else is in your in box other than papers? Small animals, car parts?
Neil Kelty says
Haha, no nothing that extreme. I’ve got a few binders and I’m going through the college process right now (Although, I’ve already selected and “joined” a college I still have stuff sitting around. Lots of brochures, bindres, a few books. It’s insane.
Maybe we ought to all take photos of our desks and post them.
jen_chan, writer SureFireWealth.com says
Actually, your desk looks pretty clean compared to my own. I don’t even get to use my desk anymore. It has become a place to dump all my stuff on. A dump desk, if you will. Why is it always easier to clean up other people’s desks except my own?
The contents of the pocket have always been a problem for me: scraps of paper, loose change, chapstick, metro pass, watch, ring, etc….They all get dumped (or used to) get dumped in random locations which inevidibly created a hurried panic the next morning trying to locate them. What I do now is I have a special pocket box: an old cuban cigar box. All of this holds my pocket contents and the change is allowed to accumulate. In the morning, I pick out what I need and after several months, I’ve got a nice pile of change. Just last week, I pulled out 75 dollars (wan–I live in Korea). Not bad….
Organize Anything says
still waiting for the ‘after’ picture, ha.
Mike N says
I think it is worth noting that there are lots of studies and articles written about the positive/creative aspects of a messy desk/environment. The NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/opinion/sunday/its-not-mess-its-creativity.html) published one that found people in cluttered spaces were more creative. I think it comes down to individual personality. If the clutter drives you crazy because you are a neat freak, then it won’t work for you. If you thrive in the clutter, than sitting in a sterile environment is not going to work for you either. One must also take into account your environment. If you work in a team where sharing space, files and documents is required and common, you may create some tension with your coworkers if they are searching through your “mess” to find a place to sit, drop off or retrieve documents. Know your workplace and yourself and use the system that works for you.