“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.