Reader Friday: What Does Your Desk Look Like?

Is your desk neat or a carousel of clutter? One study suggests creatives should leave that messy desk alone. “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.” In contrast, the researchers found that orderly environments encourage convention and playing it safe.

So what does your desk look like?


24 thoughts on “Reader Friday: What Does Your Desk Look Like?

  1. My desk is the result of the classic “file-by-pile” method – which I “learned” from my father, and resembles the Xerox truck having backed in and blown up in my office.

    I get all manner of abuse about it, and have an uncomfortable feeling whenever I’m see the surface of someone’s desk between short, neat stacks of documents.

    However, I can – usually – find whatever is needed, unless someone has “straightening ” things up in an effort to help.

  2. Judging by that advice, I’m good. My desk looks similar to the post image, handwritten notes everywhere, on scraps of paper, old envelopes, napkins, sticky notes … whatever was in reach at the time that cool idea slammed me over the head. After I finish one book, the notes go into a pile, and the process restarts with new ideas, new notes. To others, my desk looks like a cyclone spiraled through my office. To me, I know exactly where to find what I need. 😁

  3. I go back and forth. My desk naturally accumulates piles and piles, like kudzu. Then once every six months or so I throw it all in a box for sorting later, and have a nice, clean desk that makes me feel in control and productive. Then the kudzu starts growing again. I need to track this and figure out if there’s a correlation between my working on a novel (mess) and finishing its final revisions (clean).

  4. Jumbled work areas give me a headache.
    My desk is neat and organized, with everything I need visible or easily available. Lots of notes on random paper scraps are all corralled, face up, in an open metal box on the back left corner of my desk. A printout of my latest draft is stored in a folder to the right of my computer. The bulletin board above my desk—also neat—displays details about characters and timelines, plus a printout of “5 Secrets to Taking the Perfect Nap.”
    Therefore, according to the creativity theories cited in the Inc. article, I am safely conventional. I am fine with that conclusion, because I like space and order around me to work: breathing room to think and daydream and write, and a simple system to retrieve whatever I need quickly.

  5. It’s a constant struggle. In practice it’s not as messy as it looks, as much of what appears to be clutter in actually something I left handy because I know I’m coming back to it. (Honest to God.) The Beloved Spouse and I put together a variable height desk a few months ago with a stationary side surface and that helps with tidiness somewhat, as I can’t have things spanning the two pieces when it’s time to raise or lower.

  6. My desk where I write is medum messy, I guess, with coffee cups (two, to save me a trip back to the house and the coffee maker), Tums, a small bottle of screen cleaner, my polarized sunglasses for when the glare of the screen gets too harsh, etc. But no scraps. I take notes on the computer in a separate Notepad doc even while I’m writing on Word. Goodness that all sounds boring, but it works for me. (grin)

  7. My desk looks full & a titch on the messy side. Full because I use 2 large monitors and have a big computer tower and printer, plus any stacks of books and typical office & art supplies.

    The next few months are going to be interesting ones in desk & writing terms. I’m moving & am going to have to give up my big U-shaped desk (apartment sizes keep shrinking). Haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to rig up for computer space at the new apartment, but, just as I want to have an area separate for visual arts, this might be a good time for me to transition to a writing ONLY area, instead of a desk catch all where I can be distracted by many things. We’ll see.

  8. I love the look of a neat and clean desk, but that does not mean mine is. Every now and then I get the urge to clean and organize, but most of the time it just looks like I keep a pet raccoon as a personal assistant.

  9. I want to take a flame thrower to it. My desk drives me nuts. Fortunately lap top is portable and I find changing venues can be a big plus.

    This weekend I will declutter! Yeah right.

  10. I don’t have a desk. Almost everything I need is in my laptop, which goes where the spirit moves me. Which is odd, because in everything else in my life I am a Luddite. I recently gave up my Keurig and went back to a Mr. Coffee I found at the Goodwill.

    The world is too complicated. Just after daylight savings time, I tried to change the clock on my husband’s newish Hyundai. It’s all computerized and I went to the manual to find out how to do it. On page 45, it said, “See supplemental manual.”

    I do like Post-Its, though. Wish I had invented them. 🙂

    • Totally with you on the Keurig. My reasons–I’m no eco warrior, but I started feeling weird about all those tiny plastic cups, and the water just sitting in the machine made me think of mold.

      Bought a big French press for coffee, and love it. A PITA to clean, but it’s worth it.

  11. Most of the time, the only reason I know I even have a desk is that something has to be holding all that stuff up. I used to clean up when I finished a book but now, with three publishers and Indie stuff, I’m never really finished.

    Makes the tidy people in my life crazy, though, when they want something and I turn to one of several piles and go 2 3/4″ down and pull out exactly what they want.

  12. I love a neat and tidy desk. I love a neat and tidy office overall. But as soon as I get it straightened out, stuff floods in. Magazines, books to blurb, catalogs and assorted stuff. Coffee cups and empty water bottles are another problem. Trip receipts. Power cords. Just stuff. Makes me crazy

  13. Leading up to tax time, I realized my desk and office were so cluttered that I was only writing on my laptop in the living room. As I’m the family CEO, our records, receipts, etc were taking up all my creative space. So last weekend I repurposed a guest room, decluttered and cleaned it to the walls to make it family bill-paying/writer business central. Now I’m tackling my office to make it welcoming and comfortable for writing.

    Mental and physical space for creativity is so important. A regular writing schedule is critical, but tough to settle down to when there’s way too much visual noise.

  14. My desk is the bistro table in my garden. When I’m writing, it’s covered with gel pens (I like to color code), metallic pens (I give myself stars when I finish something), post it notes (for where I left off), index cards (for stuff I think of while I’m at work and things I need to research), peanuts (for the squirrels), coffee, water, or cherry coke (depending on time of day) for me.

    I saw the post it note inventor being interviewed several years ago. Whatever he was trying to invent, it wasn’t that. He thought it was a failed experiment until he started using them in his hymnal at choir practice. Everyone wanted them.

  15. My desk is organized by the same system as I keep my mind in order. Everything in its place and a place for everything, and I … ooh….shiny thing!

  16. Mr. Basil actually has no desk. He had one, but his wife confiscated it and makes him work either in his comfy chair with only a small coffee table to clutter, or in his recording booth, which is even smaller. Luckily, when working in his tiny 4×5 booth, we all fit in his head and don’t need to worry about space too much. Unless he sneezes really hard, then one of more of us may fall out and it gets really crowded then.

  17. I am not a neat person, but I have two places where I cannot be productive if it is cluttered. My desk is ALWAYS clean. I cannot concentrate if it is not. However, my bulletin board and surrounding office can be a mess.

    The other place is the kitchen. I cannot prepare a meal if the room is not already cleaned from the last meal.

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