Albert Einstein

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, Then what are we to think of an empty desk?”
~ Albert Einstein
Overflowing ashtrays, piles of books, coffee stained napkins scribbled with half-baked theories, mangled envelopes, semi-scribed journals, purloined pens, dog-eared dailies, notebooks, piles of paper and mountains of unopened letters…the strictness of order and the opposing efficiency of chaos? Well, I dunno’ about that. Albert Einstein may have been brilliant but to this neat-nick, I think he must have been a complete and total slob.
Theories of relativity aside – nobody needs to drop an apple onto my head for me to notice both sides of the tidiness fence – those who see the advantage of having a messy desk and those who slip into flames when a pen is left askew. (Okay. I admit it. I just described myself.)
While revealing your true inner being, if your desk is nasty maybe you’re just disorganized by nature, maybe your productivity skills are rusty, you’ve decided to cozy up to your own special brand of disorder or perhaps you’re the kind of person who – when finished with something – it spirals into a whirling abyss of invisibility. Although your mass-of-mess is mounding into Mount St. Helens, Mount Fuji or even Mount Everest, you’ve become blinded – and to your delusional sightless eyes, your chaos ceases to exist.
Finding the middle ground between what’s tidy and untidy can be slippery. A study at Columbia Business School found that people who keep a dashing desk actually spend more time shuffling through stuff than those who keep it mildly messy – systematizing and salvaging stuff takes time. And when it comes to a messy desk, time is of the essence – for it was our sloppy scientist who once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
Ebbing and flowing like the tide, when your desk is out of control, wrestling your stack of stuff can be absolutely aggravating. Slob that he was, our birthday boy also once said; “Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
When your messes reach maximum density, make a hole into your Himalayan-sized-hysteria – a gap into your Alpine-shaped-mishap by keeping your tidying trouble-free. Simply commit yourself to digging through your disaster for just five minutes a day.
And once you’ve reached China – umm-errr – your desk top, consider this simple, eco-friendly way of polishing it: Use two parts olive oil mixed with one part lemon juice. Pour just a few drops on a soft cloth, wipe away the dust, scuffs, and fingerprints, and make your wooden desk shine. No sprays, aerosols or chemicals needed—just two natural ingredients, and voila, a clean and polished surface.
Although a clean desk to some may symbolically resemble a blank slate (Yoo-hoo! Is anybody home?) I find peace when my desk is shipshape and tidy. While cleaning yours, you may not find Amelia Earhart or Jimmy Hoffa, some missing masterpieces by Rembrandt, Manet or Vermeer, or even the meaning of life but hopefully you’ll discover a newfound semblance of order and – ultimately – the long-lost surface of of your desk.

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About michael.dejong

Environmentalist, artist and author, Michael DeJong, was born in Chicago Heights, IL, in 1962, earning his MFA from the University of Illinois in 1987 before moving to NYC. Once settled, to support himself as a working artist, DeJong ran a housekeeping business for 7 years. In response to his own health challenges caused by multiple daily exposures to toxic commercial household cleaners, he began researching healthier, natural alternatives, using his clients’ homes as his “laboratory,” formulating and testing his eco-friendly, human-friendly and pet-friendly cleaning recipes. He currently lives in Jersey City with his partner of 18 years (Richard,) dog of 10 years (Jack,) and 3 goldfish of 2 years (Phil, Jill and Gill) who all benefit from his natural cleaning techniques. After launching a successful career as a commercial photo-stylist, he put aside his hundreds of cleaning recipes and notes, only to return to them in 2005, after a chance meeting with publishing legend, Joost Elffers, for whom he wrote the popular environmental cleaning book, “Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing” (Sterling Publishing/Joost Elffers Books, 2007). Upon its release, “Clean” quickly found a large following and was Sterling’s best seller for 2007. DeJong and Elffers donated 2,500 books to Al Gore that were included in the “Trainee Tool Kit” for the international attendees of his “Climate Project” trainings. The book was also touted by Teresa Heinz Kerry in her lecture series, “Women, Health & the Environment,” and was auctioned by Bette Midler to raise funds for her “Restoration Project” in NYC. “Clean” has been quoted, reviewed and/or recommended by the Sierra Club, Women’s Voices for the Earth, Town & Country Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart’s Blueprint Magazine, This Old House Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, The Seattle Times, USA Weekend Magazine, Lifetime Television and several other media outlets. DeJong is currently working on the next 2 volumes for his My Kind of Clean series of “green” cleaning, beauty, and lifestyle books. “Clean Body” and “Clean Cures” will be released by Sterling Publishing/Joost Elffers Books in spring and fall of 2009 respectively. Michael is currently the eco-cleaning advisor and weekly contributor to Hearst Publishing’s first online magazine, “The Daily Green," and was the eco-expert “Mr. Green” for the “Ask Mr. Green” column on NBC-Universal-Bravo’s new environmental website . He is currently blogging for The Huffington Post With Dutch and American partners, he is currently heading up an exciting, sustainable, social-entrepreneurial, “for-benefit” company in The Netherlands, OneCleanWorld Group, and beginning the OneCleanWorld Foundation in the US. OneCleanWorld’s first subsidiary, CleanHome&Body International will produce families of safe and eco-effective products based on the time-tested recipes in his My Kind of Clean book series. The first line of 15 eco-friendly household cleaners will be launched in late spring 2009 under the brand “CleanHome,” and as each new book in the series is released, a new line of related products will be developed and launched. The company is also developing an open-source, interactive, social-networking, “We-Think” style, web portal for environmentalists, activists, entrepreneurs and bloggers interested in improving the planet one-household-at-a-time. OneCleanWorld, it's subsidiaries and the OCW Foundation have a commitment to profits with principles, and royalties from all of the books and a percentage of profits from the commercial ventures will all go towards endowing and underwriting the foundation, which will focus on providing monetary grants, technical assistance and/or micro-financing for eco-projects worldwide.