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Monday, May 19, 2008

Does a messy desk matter?

It's Monday morning and I'm at my desk. It's not cluttered but it's not completely clean and organized either. I have worked hard to overcome my natural tendency of allowing piles of paper to cover my desk. I want work/life balance and to me, that means NOT trying to handle too many tasks at once, cluttering my mind and desk.

But I look around me and most of my co-workers can barely see their desks. I wonder how some of them get anything done. So, it intrigued me when I saw a manager's query on the Monster blog. After asking an employee to clean up his desk several times, he wrote: "Is it something I should just let be and assume the employee works better in a controlled chaos environment? Or should I step up my requests and not be so nice about it? I'm not sure how much it is my place to tell someone to clean up their work area if it really doesn't bother anyone but me."

Does a messy desk matter? Monster says people respond in two ways:

  • As long as the employee’s work is getting done, it doesn’t matter how messy his desk is or isn’t.

  • A messy desk is no doubt a sign of a cluttered mind! Continue to insist that the employee clean up his workspace.

Most of the highly successful business people I interview buy into the clean desk theory. They say clutterfree desks are critical to being productive and having work/life balance. They only want items on their desk that relate to the task they are doing at that moment. But I do have many colleagues who are organized and on top of all their projects, in spite of their desk’s appearances to the contrary.

I say, each person has their own way of working and living, as long as they get the job done who cares what their desk looks like (as long as it's not bug infested). What's your take? And, when should the line be drawn, if ever?

Below: One mom's entry into a messy desk contest. To read her blog, click here.


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