Whether we like it or not, people make judgements about others based on appearances – including the appearance of their work space. Too messy and you’re condemned as disorganized and inefficient; but on the other hand, as Albert Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” But then, one person’s neat is another’s messy.
Many of us are drawn to the ascetic simplicity of a desk like this:
but unless that book is about the only thing you use while sitting at that desk – or possibly the only thing you own – chances are it’s not going to stay that neat for long. Exquisite, but simply impractical for a ‘working’ desk, unless you have lots of time and an iron discipline when it comes to Putting Things Away.
Actually, one of the things I like best about my desk is that I don’t have to put everything away for meals – unlike when I used a corner of the dining table. I can just put down my pen and go off for lunch, then pick up the pen and carry on where I left off when I get back.
On the other hand, I’d like to think that my desk isn’t (and hopefully never will be) as bad as this one (I’m not even sure that there is a desk under all that):
Happily, my desk has quite a large surface area, so takes a lot before it looks cluttered. I have a bit over one square metre (that’s just over 11 square feet for the imperialists) and that’s before I pull out the two flat boards housed above the drawers and cupboard. (Anyone know what those are called?)
At any given time, my desk top will likely have the following sitting on it:
- the current WIP exercise book (Tsifira vol. 4)
- my favourite fountain pen (filled with purple ink)
- notebook (tracking page count, ink refills etc)
- chess board (mapping the WIP plot)
- a picture of a young Amelia Earhart (how I imagine Tsifira looks)
- notes (of various sorts, on assorted scraps of paper)
- tea paraphernalia (teapot, strainer, cup & saucer)
- my skeleton-case mechanical watch (or I’d lose track of time)
- a wooden box with a perpetual calendar on the lid (ditto date)
- a Royal Worcester porcelain treasure box (an engagement gift)
- a teapot-shaped china box (a farewell gift from a former colleague at the DDJ) filled with mints
- a box of matches (I’m not a smoker, I swear!)
- the old candle lamp (I told you I wasn’t a smoker)
- a glass vase (amber like the candle lampshade) with an arrangement of foliage (it’s autumn)
- a tiny Hun from a Kinder Surprise egg (why not?)
- a small painting of Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery (a 21st gift)
But not a computer. Not until the rewrite, at least.
What’s on your desk? What does your desk say about you? And dare I ask, what do you think my desk says about me?