Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Clean Desk IS a Sign of an Organized Mind, I promise!

I had to clean my desk today at work. It was thrilling stuff. It took me all of about ten minutes at the very maximum. That's a very big advantage for only having worked at a place for three months. I even discovered that I had a tape dispenser! Yes, three months at the same desk and I didn't know that. It was a good discovery. I'd say it was an exciting discovery but that would put it on a level as discovering, oh, a new breed of monkey or a new island in the middle of the Atlantic inhabited only by bunnies or something. So, we'll just say it was a good discovery. Tape is a very useful office tool.

The reason I had to clean my desk off is that our company is being sold and the potential buyers are coming in to check us all out next week. Thrilling stuff. So we all have to dress nicely and clean our desks and workspace. I get that but part of me wonders that, if you were a new company scoping out your potential employees, wouldn't you rather see a slightly messy desk than a pristine one? I'm not saying that there aren't people who are capable of keeping their desks clean. My best friend, Sarah, is one of the neatest, tidiest people I know and I guarantee that her workspace is as organized as you've ever seen especially as she works really hard every day and doesn't just sit around straightening up her desk for lack of anything better to do. I admire her for that. I've tried to be like that but as the days pass, papers slowly stack up and take over the desk, chapsticks fall in because I'm a bit of a collector, pens start to leave their nice holder and stray into the thicket of papers and, voila!, messy desk!

No, what I'm saying is that while there might be neat people like Sarah in companies, there are also the people like me who, once engrossed in a project, tends to forget to be tidy and desk-chaos ensues. I can usually find stuff because in my head, it's organized but to other people, it might look a bit messy.

Yet that means that I'm working. To me, a lot of clean desks is a bit suspicious, like you're trying too hard. I think there should be one clean desk thrown in amongst three haphazardly messy ones. I mean, there's always going to be the Sarah's who are impecabbly neat and organized but there's usually a lot more me's. My old manager used to have a placard in her office that said "A messy desk is a sign of an organized mind." Her desk was always overflowing with papers and books but she was great at her job.

Every now and again, I will happily clean my desk. It's usually on one of those days where my day feels muddled, I can't get anything done and I need some order in my life. Then I will clean my desk. It's therapy and cleaning, all mixed up into an hour at work. After that, I usually get a lot accomplished because I'm so thrilled to see the surface of my desk gleaming that I want to get a lot done.

So, you see, cleaning my desk should be a natural reaction, not one to impress my potential employers. I'd be suspicious of me if I were them. Also, I had a discussion with a coworker as to the need to remove personal stuff from our desks. I'm a bit of a toy person. I usually have a collection of toys and fun objects to amuse me during long phone calls or office meetings. They're harmless but they make workspace feel like mine. Currently, I have my Green Day Superhero Action Figures, the Geico Gekko statue I have (that I imagine talking to me in his adorable cockney accent) and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. The reason I have Aragorn is to accompany my coworker's same-sized and style Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. My other coworker has a William Shakespeare action figure. We're a nerdy, weird group but it works.

Now, I understand that having Aragorn and Jack Sparrow might not make us seem too serious about our jobs but they're also symbols that we feel like we're comfortable enough to reveal our personality at work. It's not like we're sitting around playing games with them; they're harmlessly sitting there, minding their own business.

I see her point, that we should take all that stuff away because it would make us seem very serious about our work. Yet, again, I ask, is that what I would want to see? I love to walk into an office and see that the people there can be a little goofy, that they're not all robots who live to work and do nothing else. I might not want to see an office that's full of toys and nothing else but if all those people have a proven work history, if they do well at their jobs, what difference does it make if they have a few toys on their desk?

Yet everyone's different and I know there are rules that have to be followed which is why I cleaned my desk like a good little monkeypants. I haven't removed my toys yet. I think I'll keep the Green Day boys out though for the sake of peacekeeping, Aragorn may have to go back from whence he came for a while.

But at least my desk is shiny and clean. For now.

Happy Thursday.

ps. It just occurred to me that I think I told you all that I imagine my Geico Gekko talking to me. Perhaps you should just forget I said that. Now I reread it, it makes me sound a little....odd.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Yes, I am a big, obsessive-compulsive (my words, not yours) geek about keeping my workspace clean. In my office, though, it is encouraged - when you work for a retired Army general you learn to keep the clutter to the minimum.

But hey, today I left with my desk very tidy and my mind very muddled, so there is something to your theory...