Clean Desk: Risks and Rewards

A not very clean desk

Was it six or seven empty glasses? They were not the only dirty dishes that needed to be removed from my son’s computer desk. While his floor is clean, the desk looks like a research lab for clutter mechanics. This, of course, inspires a quick lecture on the impact of cleanliness on productivity. After all, if you don’t have room on your desk for your homework, how can you get it done while sitting at your desk?

To be fair, I have worked at my fair share of cluttered desks. Some were out of necessity, but a few were out of a lack of desire to clean. These days, my desk, both at work and at home, is fairly well-organized unless I am in mid-project. I like my space. I need my space. Room to breath at my desk is essential if I am to be productive.

Or is it?

Clean Desk Rewards

I feel like this is obvious. When starting a new project, I have plenty of room to drop a stack of books or other essentials. There is no need to make space because I have space. A distraction free, clutter free desktop means I can focus on the task at hand. Being able to freely move my mouse or use my tablet is glorious.

Bonus: A clean desk attracts feline guests who have room to lay without perching on the keyboard.

Clean Desk Risks

Less obvious are the dangers facing me at a clean desk. I come home after a hard day of work and, after the normal round of email and website checks, it is time to get to work on personal projects. I look around my desk and find only the essentials. Now what? I was going to work on something, but I can’t recall. On my best days, I leave myself a digital note. This is not one of those days.

I study the bookshelf next to my desk. No other clues await me in the studio. I am having no luck downstairs, either. There is a clear mission, but it has become lost in the midst of a clean desk and a foggy mind.

Oh, The Irony

With a cluttered desk, I am sure to remember. In fact, I am annoyed that I have to clean off the desk before I can start the next project. There must be middle ground. I am absolutely certain, though, that my clean desk, forgetfulness issue works better for me than a pile of dishes between myself and my monitors.

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