empty desk_crop

Less Is More, Right?

Moving day in the office recently so for awhile I sat at a new desk. A new, very, very empty desk. Inbox zero, desk style.

Had quite a profound feeling at first. I felt invigorated, energized and clear minded. By god I was gonna get some shit done at work. Booyah!

…and most of the morning felt quite the same.

Inevitably, however, by the end of the day I’d needed a pen here, a slip of chicken-scratch paper there and I’d started to twitch a little when my dual-monitor addiction kicked in.

Is a Clean Desk Policy Good?

The luster was gone.

I realized keeping a desk this clean all the time is hopeless. And my excitement was probably more about the change rather than anything to do with being more productive.

Heck, I even found a study that claims messy desks are actually good for focus and thinking.

Visual and mental clutter forces human beings to focus and think more clearly. Famous thinkers and writers such as Albert Einstein and Roald Dahl have been notorious for their untidy desks.

But of course there are other ends of the extreme too.

Check out this example of a clean desk policy that’s locked up in HR-speak handcuffs so tightly it’ll be sure to make even the monotonous employee want to quit:

At the conclusion of the work day, employees are expected to straighten their desks and put away any office-related paperwork. Papers should be filed in the appropriate cabinet or filing drawer. Sensitive material should be placed in a locked file.

My Desk Zero Policy

Here’s the clean desk club I’m starting:

  • Clean actual filth. This is a non-starter – no dust, food pieces, empty drinks, etc.
  • Keep hardware only if it’s used once a week.
  • Transfer to a GTD app & then trash all stickies and post-its each day.
  • Digitize as many other papers as possible.
  • Keep a file cabinet handy for the remaining crap I probably don’t need but can’t pitch.

What about you? Are you in the clean desk club or is your desk more of a beautiful disaster?