Someone once told me they had read a study that said people are more creative if their surroundings are neat and tidy. I think I might have to test that out in another lifetime.
I like to keep my house in good order. I’m not obsessively tidy, mind you, but I do like to clean up when things start to get out of hand. I like to have enough order so that I can find things when I need them. It makes me anxious if my house gets too messy. So how come that doesn’t hold true in my workspace? It’s a disaster area. Occasionally I can’t stand he disorder anymore, so I go into a frenzy and clean up my space. Good, right? Not really. Ten minutes after I sit down to work, it’s messy again. It’s like magic. I get out an article I need to read for my WIP, and when I’m done, it falls where it may. I print out something and fling it wherever it lands. I get a phone call or an email and make notes and then lay the note down “wherever.”
Right now on my desk I have two partially drunk bottles of water that have been there for weeks. I have old notes to myself, a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology that I took out a few weeks ago to look up something and never put back. Half-read books, bookmarks, a half-finished crossword puzzle, pencils with no lead, receipts from my last conference that I have yet to file…
What’s going on? My best self believes that a messy desk is a sign of a messy brain. But tell that to the imp who doesn’t put things back. I’ve come to the conclusion that as tidy as the rest of my house is, my study is never going to measure up.
Since this has been going on for a long time, I have a suspicion that there must be a reason for it. I’d like to think that the messy desk signals that my mind is creating order out of the chaos of ideas that tumble around in my head. But maybe I’m just lazy.
I’m curious to know how others handle this. In many polls, you’ll find that half of respondents do things one way, half do it another way—and sometimes they are passionate about their of doing things. Best example I know is the divide between plotters and pantsers.
So I’m taking an informal poll here. Is your desk tidy or messy? And why?