messy antics

A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind? …

Or is it something a little more profound than Puritan theory, whereby the messy desk theory is actually in an in-between grey-zone, where a prim and proper desk  may not necessarily be the sign of a clear mind, focused and motivated by the task at hand, but rather some kind of projection of an idealized state, or perhaps an altered state. Walter Benjamin had a theory of what he termed “messy antics”  based on how young children would interact, their particular relationship with objects of the world; often according these objects elements of the supernatural with revolutionary possibilities, as if the “junk” on a cluttered desk, most of which are disposable and non-functional artifacts, trash, could be imbued with the same remarkable qualities with transformative capabilities offering potential transcendent experiences. For the children, according to Benjamin gave the highest values to the objects that most grown-ups considered worthless trash. The adult of cluttered desk notoriety engages in the same child’s play that could be considered complementary to the emancipatory potential that Benjamin foresaw…garbage, the waste-basket, Benjamin’s sort of scrap heap of history, is redeemed in defiance of the linear scientific laws of nature, showing the path to a new understanding, and out of the box wildcat of an idea spiced with a dash of messianism…

Managers and office busybodies might be keen on a clean desk – but it seems that in terms of productivity, they could have it all wrong A messy desk can actually lead people towards clearer thinking, say researchers from Germany.The researchers found in a series of linked studies – using a messy desk and a messy shop front – that people actually thought more clearly when all around was chaos, as they sought to simplify the tasks at hand.Visual and mental clutter forces human beings to focus and think more clearly.

Einstein’s Office—order out of chaos?

Famous thinkers and writers such as Albert Einstein  and Roald Dahl have been notorious for their untidy desks.’Messy desks may not be as detrimental as they appear to be, as the problem-solving approaches they seem to cause can boost work efficiency or enhance employees’ creativity in problem solving,’ say the authors. Oddly, the effect seems to work most on conservatives – political liberals are less liable to be worried about mess in the first place, say the researchers Read more:

—Workplace clutter is “a tremendous waste of productivity,” says Katherine Trezise, president of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization—and a woman whose desk, I imagine, is spotless. Trezise says that a little mess is OK, but that “the problem comes in when it affects other people. Can you do your job? Maintain relationships with colleagues?” If the answer is no, you might need to rethink your habits.
“I used to work with a woman who simply would not put any paperwork away,” says Stephanie Stump, in Smyrna, Tenn. “We worked in accounts receivable, and she had like 16 banker’s boxes stacked up in a tower beside her desk—just stacks and stacks of paper—until management made her put them in storage.” Stump says that she judged the woman more harshly because of the mess. “It makes you wonder if they have some sort of security hang-up that they can’t toss a check from two years ago,” she explains.—Read More: image:WIKI


(see link at end)…But when I asked self-admittedly messy people about their own desks, everyone but Lucas claimed that the rules didn’t apply to them. Their mess was different. It was “organized chaos,” said one person. “I have a system,” said another. And while Stump took issue with her co-worker’s boxes, she saw nothing weird about the dozens of toy ducks that used to line three of her four cubicle walls. Read More:

—Robert Blinn of Core 77 posted an extensive and very interesting review of Living with Complexity by Donald Norman. He describes looking at a picture of Al Gore’s messy office, and issuing big judgements about a man who campaigns against our messing up of the environment, while not keeping his own space together. Messy spaces are widely considered the sign of a disorganized and un-together person. Not for Norman:
In Norman’s view, Gore’s desk is the cluttered extension of an organized mind. Indeed, Norman interviewed many seemingly organized owners of messy workspaces and heard them repeatedly request, “Please don’t clean my desk.” The apparent disorder of the office was being carefully tracked in their minds. Norman explains that all of our desire for “simplicity” is a false hope because life is complex. Complexity, however, does not need to be confusing.—Read More:

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