Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Surrounded by Papers

I am not merely a messy desk person. Such people dwell in the minor leagues. No, my productivity is supported by a messy office. Books on the floor and sofa. Files hidden on the desk. Notes to myself taped up in various places.

That's my home office. My regular office is more orderly - thank God for project boxes - but still messy. Clients have to tolerate a certain level of eccentricity. Several have expressed approval.

Now if I had a cadre of handlers who could snatch away this item and file that one and always be nearby to fetch and tote, I might consider the clean desk approach but even that would be a ruse. I also fear the tidiness might inhibit a creative process that is fueled by having a stack of management books intermingled with ones on philosophy, history, and politics and by seeing bunches of papers that serve as constructive reminders or alarm bells.

Of course, there is a limit. It is time to file and organize when papers cannot be readily found or when the mass begins to foster depression. Until that point is reached, however, I can operate very well in a paper forest.

It is reassuring and I like the trees.


At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanna see a picture of this!


At 6:48 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


If I released a photo of my home office, my wife would shoot me.

I'll rustle up one of the "real" office.


At 6:35 AM, Blogger Michael Wade said...

P.S. Cultural Offering has a post on the subject, including a photo of my "regular" office desk: http://culturaloffering.com/2010/04/27/the-messy-desk.aspx

The home office desk, of course, is still off-limits. It is far messier.

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't look that bad.

I figure those who have a room or two where the actual hard copy stuff is a little disheveled, are able to find the info in their brains better- and at just the right time.

If we only use a fraction of our brains during our existence in Earth, we need to cram as much info in there as we can.

My home office is a wreck, and my wife calls me "the stacker”. I try to rearrange to keep her peace of mind intact. However, nothing is better than re-reading books, finding old info, and leaving a stack of it for a later time. A kid cries, something takes me away, etc., I know it's there when I want it. Why can't my wife understand that?


At 11:49 AM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


It's like The Odd Couple. There are messy desk people and clean desk people.

One interesting difference: The messy desk people never urge the clean desk people to get more clutter.

I see some offices that look a little too neat and wonder, "Does anyone really work in here?"


At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wade,

If I ever move to Arizona, I am coming to your office and I'm gonna do whatever is needed, stuff envelopes, clean the bathroom, follow you around and watch you work, run errands for you, anything.

I did the same at my current job 10 year ago and now I am a regional manager (educational service) in NYC. You seem like you would be a great boss for which to work.

I love learning from people. Your blog has been very educational for me for the last couple of years as I transitioned from music performance to education and
finally managing music teachers.

Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom. I'm on your page 2-3 times a day. I forward my favs to my boss.

I visited Arizona when I was 10. I loved it. Dry hot days and cool breezy nights. And no humidity or allergies.

Maybe we will meet someday.

Thanks again,


At 2:19 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


You're made my day! I'm glad my blog has been of assistance and by all means, if you get to Arizona, give me a call.




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