When I worked in the corporate world, you could tell a lot about a person by his or her desk. The trouble was it was open to many interpretations. I worked with someone (we’ll call him Paul) who had stacks and stacks of files on his desk. His superiors thought he was a real “go-getter”, was always busy, and could seemingly multi-task like a champ. Those of us who were his peers had a different perspective. When you called Paul, he almost always had his phone forwarded to voicemail. Everything was a “fire” he was putting out, and being “in the weeds” was his daily position. He gained a reputation as someone to work around, not with.
In my job, we had ad hoc projects each day, but for the most part, my team and I had a schedule, and we knew what had to be completed and when. As a result, I was able to put files away and sort my paperwork every night before I left work, so I walked into a clean desk each morning. Were there nights when I was just too tired and dragged myself home without doing the nightly tidying? Sure, but I noticed a marked difference in how I felt the next morning and how well I managed my work that day. Here’s the kicker – one night I was about to leave and my desk was pretty much clear. My boss passed by and asked “what – don’t you have any work to do?” Ha ha – what a card. Bosses – do your whole team a favor, and don’t make fun of your organized employees – they know where things are and they can get your answers when you need them. You want them on your side, and you want your other employees to see the respect you show those who can manage their time, and their spaces.
So, if you are a member of the messy desk club, ask yourself why. Maybe there’s a little ADHD going on there, because it’s difficult for you to finish something before another task grabs your attention. If you suspect that, do your research and get some assistance. Lists are great for ADHD, plus other visual or audible reminders (like the *bing bong *on your Palm, or Outlook, etc.) Maybe it’s just a bad habit. Time to break it. Learn some time management and filing skills – (try a professional organizer!) – or delegate anything you can. Maybe you’ve found that people leave you alone when you look busy. You may do well with this tactic for a while, but eventually the little boy shouts out: “the emperor has no clothes!” Do you really want to be the person who never gets promoted due to the fact that you’ve established a reputation for being too busy to ever take on anything new? Information is power – but only if you can find it.