Compliments of atibens via Flickr

“By eliminating the things that you do not want in your life (e.g., the messy drawer), you begin to determine what you do want to let in. The things you let in are your keepers, your non-negotiables. “ [The Secrets of Simplicity].

In their book “A Perfect Mess,” the authors make the following exhortation: “Suffice it to say, you’re better off just playing around with mess and seeing what happens” (Abrahamson & Freedman, 2007, p. 231). They argue that a certain degree of mess may actually enhance one’s chances of stumbling onto unexpected resources, thus enhancing item functionality. We should, in their opinion, follow the urge to embrace our “inner messy” so that we can create efficiencies by making things more “accessible.” I’m unclear as to how a visual assault can be anything besides disruptive; moreover, I have found that havoc breeds a like minded state of affairs. It is best in my opinion to make adjustments along the way, as opposed to being blindsided by an avalanche of discontent. When the bathroom is dirty, what do you think? We make snap judgments based on superficial aspects of a situation, a phenomenon that makes subsequent unbiased reevaluation a near impossible feat.

The process of purgation and optimal materials management renders mess a moot point. When several projects can be displayed simultaneously in an electronic format (as in the process of mind mapping), your chances of making serendipitous visual connections are enhanced. Additionally, it is difficult to bring anything new into your office if you’re drowning in what you don’t need. I have plenty of mess injected into my life through unexpected crises – I have no need of creating additional clutter.

Several systems are available to induce greater manageability in your paperwork. These include indexing systems that make your documents easier to find (e.g., Index Your Files), along with scanners that reduce your paper into manageable computer files that can be stored and later searched by subject matter.

When arranging your space, keep the following in mind:

  • It isn’t that we need more space, it’s that we need to streamline our work.
  • The less you have to deal with, the better you are able to deal with what you have.
  • Conquer your workspace; in many cases the workspace is winning the battle.
  • Designate items for multiple purposes.
  • A nice looking office is an inducement to stay.
  • Mess is often times a material security blanket with which people have surrounded themselves.

 A few simple changes may prevent your office from the fate pictured below: 

compliments of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

World’s Messiest Office Cubicle Discovered in Colorado.  


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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