This is my linen closet here on the left. Notice how neat it is. I’m leading with this picture because I don’t want readers to think my house is always a total mess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if I led with a picture of my desk, you’d wonder how I ever get any work done. It’s easy, though. Really.
To the right is a picture of my desk as it looks right now, but it doesn’t always look like this. Sometimes it looks like this picture below. But before long, it’s back to the first picture again. I just can’t seem to keep it tidy.
Desks—messy or not—are an individual matter. To the right is a picture of the clean desk of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In a comment on Jennifer Crusie’s blog, SEP claimed that she’d just finished a book and had straightened up. Jennifer Crusie, SEP’s good friend, calls this image “SEP’s sterile existence” and wonders how she can ever find anything. Once, years earlier, SEP had posted a picture of her messy desk, and her messy desk looks a lot like my clean one.
And as long as we’re being voyeurs here, below is a picture of Jenny’s desk, lifted from her Facebook page (so it’s not current—not even in her new house, but I imagine the effect is more or less the same).
I’m dragging this all up now because—good news for those who have messy desks!—researchers from the Netherlands report that a disordered environment can inspire people to set and achieve goals. In fact, clutter can be a catalyst.
University of Groningen researchers Bob Fennis and Jacob Wiebenga write in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that people have a basic need for order and structure, and if we don’t find it in our immediate environment, we’re driven to create it elsewhere. They write that what people do is convert a fuzzy world into a more understandable and predictable one, and pursuing goals provides a sense of order because goals specify concrete agents, means, and ends—the building blocks of order and structure.
I’m so relieved to learn not only that I don’t have to clean off my desk, but I’ll get more done if I leave it alone! And as those who follow her blog know, Jenny is all about structure. On the left
So—what does your desk look like?