A clean desk: Is that what we aspire to? Really?

No, this desk is NOT the winner of a prize for revealing workspaces.

And the winner is …

Wait wait wait! Taking a tip from the Academy Awards, I have to stretch this out for a bit.

Back in January, I offered a prize—a book of legal poetry—to a reader who shared a photo of their desk, messy or not. A description was invited but not required.

You may recall that my desk-psychosis grew deep as my own workspace got lost under piles. And I started to wonder what a clean or dirty desk says about each of us. Like my paper piles, that musing got pretty deep; read it here.)

I am happy to report that my messiness concerns resonated with readers. I heard from a number of folks who reported the state of their workspaces’ messiness levels.

As promised, I randomly selected a winner, and she is … K Royal. Congratulations, K!

K Royal's desk photo won her a book of poetry (though storage bins might have been a better prize!).

K Royal’s desk photo won her a book of poetry (though storage bins might have been a better prize!).

And here is K’s description of her space:

“Your note about a messy desk made me laugh out loud, so although not noteworthy, here is mine. Yes … double monitors, family photos … including my dog, shoe tape dispenser, diamond post it note holder, Dutch slippers, m&m coffee mug, and although you may not be able to see them … shoe phone holders for two cell phones and a Hedwig mug to hold pens.”

She ends with a cheery but noncommittal “May your organization remain exactly what you need it to be!”

By coincidence (yes, it’s a coincidence), I’ve known K from when she was at ASU Law School. She’s gone on to other things (including a stint in Texas), and she’s now Privacy Counsel at Align Technology in San Jose, California.

Privacy Counsel? Hmm, am I allowed to mention that?

In any case, I hope K enjoys “Poetic Justice” as much as I did.

K, send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org with your snail-mail address and I’ll get this posted tout de suite.

K Royal's desk photo won her this book of poetry!

K Royal’s desk photo won her this book of poetry!

A clean desk: Is that what we aspire to? Really?

A clean desk: Is that what we aspire to? Really?

On Friday last week, I posted a story about what the messiness of our desks may signify. In that post, I talked some trash about those people who have clean desks, but I also promised to come in over the weekend to clean my own.

I’m not sure I spotted the conceptual bind into which I was about to place myself.

Sure enough, last Saturday I cleaned my desk—quite well, I’ll add—and now I am in that category of folks I had belittled. Hmm. Bad planning.

Among my promises was this one: I would post a photo of my clean desk. First, here is the original version:

My current desk view (yes, there's a desk under there.) Here's my challenge: I'll post a clean one next week.

My current desk view (yes, there’s a desk under there.) Here’s my challenge: I’ll post a clean one next week.

And here is the new and clean version:

I've achieved desk cleanliness, but at what cost?

I’ve achieved desk cleanliness, but at what cost?

(Click to enlarge both of the panoramic photos.)

OK, I’ve fulfilled my promise to clean, but I feel pretty naked doing so. I just can’t get past my prejudice that a clean desk is an oddity, a tidy cry for help. Give me a little time, and I’m sure I’ll rectify this squeaky-clean problem sooner than you’d guess.

Have a great—and occasionally messy—Thanksgiving!

He calls that messy? A submission from @jwswrites of his messy desk (on http://spjdesklove.tumblr.com/).

He calls that messy? A submission from @jwswrites of his messy desk (on http://spjdesklove.tumblr.com/).

I’d wager the following: Anyone who has a cluttered workspace will claim that they really really really do have a system, and that it works for them. They may even go so far as to say that clutter is the sign of an active mind.

Residing among my own stacks in the cluttered category, I’ve tried floating those old canards myself. The truth is, of course, that efficient and effective people land all up and down that continuum from “hoarder” to “frighteningly neat.” Whatever works for you, works.

This month, the Society of Professional Journalists launched a fun contest in which people could send in photos of their workspace clutter. They then posted those pics on their own Tumblr page (which is worth bookmarking), and some lucky (and cluttered) person won a prize (office supplies, I think). Here’s how they put it:

“Featuring your stellar work space, courtesy of the Society of Professional Journalists. Post a picture to Twitter with the hashtag #spjdesklove and we will give your desk some Tumblr love.”

I did not submit my space for consideration, but on Change of Venue Friday, I thought I’d share it with you (see below). The image in this post represents a relatively neat period in my own pendulum swing. Don’t judge.

And how about you? Are your stacks and your clutter an ongoing challenge? Have you tamed them? If so, how? (And I really mean it: HOW? I want to know!).

Have a great weekend.

messy desk my work space

A portion of my own work area: I’m actually kind of surprised how neat my “messy desk” looks on this Friday. Things are looking up! (Full disclosure: I’ve omitted my overflowing bookshelves and various other flat surfaces.)