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A Cluttered Desk

Updated on May 10, 2011

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If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?

-Dr. Laurence J. Peter-

There is a program on my computer that automatically cleans my desktop. It used to check with me before it did its thing, but, after becoming frustrated with being interrupted for clearance, I checked the box that said it could clean to its heart’s content without permission. After believing one day that this program had deleted an important file (It had actually placed it in my documents folder.), I shut it off, sending the program to its room until further notice. This morning, I thought I had lost another important file. In my overly imaginative mind, I thought the program had tip-toed out to do some cleaning during one of my bathroom breaks. I was furious. I went searching for the file in each of my computer’s folders, making a mental note to delete the program as soon as I found the file. It wasn’t until a half an hour later when I returned to the desktop that I remembered that, during a moment of boredom yesterday, I had done some tidying up and had placed the file two rows over. This goes to show two things. One, I need new glasses. I’ve known this for a long time and this confirms it. Two, I have no business cleaning. Things tend to get lost faster in a clean space.

The table that I keep my laptop on is as cluttered as can be. I have three pads of paper, multiple pens that may or may not write, a cord to an item that I’m not sure I own, dusty tissues, vitamins in both liquid and pill form, my cell phone and its case, scraps of paper that should be thrown out, but won’t be and, thanks to Circuit City going out of business, I have this bulky pad planted under my computer that is meant to keep it from overheating. I forgot to mention that the table is a folding table that’s only really big enough to hold my laptop. Yes, things do fall off, but I always put them back on. I also tend to add more items each day. Were it not for a magical fairy that gets yelled at each time she tries to clean my mess, I’m sure the table would’ve collapsed under the weight long ago.

When people see my computer’s desktop and my table, they always ask me how I can work “under such conditions.” Don’t I get distracted? Don’t I know the value of a clean working space? Yes, I do get distracted, but distraction isn’t always a bad thing. More often than not, distraction leads to inspiration which leads to writing which leads to a job well done. I am aware that, for most people, a clean work space is the only way to go. Yet, for me, it only gives me stress. It brings back memories of school, taking tests, taking notes, listening to an underpaid, bitter woman go on and on about the same crap that she’s gone on about for the past thirty years. To me, a clean desk is just as useful to a writer as a windowless room. Chaos is inspiring. Perfection can only do so much.

Dr. Peter is right on. When our minds are clear, we are calm, we are bored, and we fall asleep. When our minds are cluttered, we worry, we reason and we develop. A cluttered desk is a well-used one. A neat desk can be found at Staples for a reasonable price.


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    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      Thank you for your comment, Lisa. :o)

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I enjoyed this Hub, although I am among those with a super-neat desk.  :)  I can't think clearly among things aren't "all in order".   I even moved all icons from the computer desktop into the task bar - for neatness.  :)  Like feline prophet, my co-workers have been known to comment on how such a clean desk looks like nobody is working. 

      LowellWriter, by the way, the reason your name caught my eye was because I live in Tewksbury; and out of curiosity I clicked on your profile to see if "Lowell" meant you live there.  :)  Small world, isn't it... 

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 8 years ago

      I can so relate! Although my desk isn't as bad as some I've seen, it is definitely not un-cluttered. But, like you, if I need something, I know exactly what pile I need to look at, or under :) Actually, in a week or two our office is installing new carpet and painting, so our desks have to be packed up. Now that is a challenge! It will make me have to re-think where my necessary things are.

      Nicely written hub, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      I prefer a clean desk and when I was working fulltime, often had people say to me, "Do you ever do any work here?" Well, I never ever fell asleep on the guess it worked for me! :P

    • Nikgigmatc profile image

      Nikgigmatc 8 years ago

      I have heard that teachers should be very well organized and that we need to keep all of our papers for each class in order, but if I did that, I would lose more important information for school and student's work. I need all of the clutter to remind myself that I havea lot fow rok to do. Clean and organized only means to me that I can go through the day without really having to worry about anything. And Staples can keep their clean desk, I love my cluttered one!