If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
– Albert Einstein
I cleaned up my office yesterday. I tossed old files into the recycling bin. I swept. I dusted. I wiped all the surfaces down. I stacked my books in haphazard piles. When it was all done, I surveyed the clean space and thought, “This is nice for now.”
Clutter defines my work space and my brain. My ideas are a jumbled pile of functioning Christmas lights: ideas are interlinked but doing their own thing, blinking their own colors. My desk gets jumbled as the semester and life progresses.
Mess for me isn’t a bad thing. It’s how my mind works. This portion of this New York Times article sums up my life:
Mess is complete, in that it embraces all sorts of random elements. Mess tells a story: you can learn a lot about people from their detritus, whereas neat — well, neat is a closed book. Neat has no narrative and no personality (as any cover of Real Simple magazine will demonstrate). Mess is also natural, as Mr. Freedman and Mr. Abrahamson point out, and a real time-saver. “It takes extra effort to neaten up a system,” they write. “Things don’t generally neaten themselves.”
So make a mess of your story, your office, your work space. You might learn something.