I love looking at interior decorating magazines, especially those that feature ultra-contemporary homes. So crisp and clean, everything is pristine and no clutter in sight. Friends could appear at these homes at any time, day or night, and the place would look the same. Perfectly organized. I hate the people who live in these homes. And I don't even know them. One of my dreams is to be so completely organized that I too could have friends drop in unannounced without worrying about our clean underwear that managed to make it from the dryer to the living room couch, but never folded itself and got to the chest of drawers in the bedroom. Despite the possible underwear sighting, our clutter is usually under control. Until you get to the home office. At previous jobs, many times I ™d walk by a co-worker's desk and stare with envy: color-coordinated folders neatly organized, a holder with just the right amount of pens, a clutter-free desk that screams put something on me, please! And everything uniformly coded with labels from an over-used Brother P-Touch. My desk, on the other hand, looked like a cross between an organization project in progress and a junk pile. My in-box (which I hated, by the way) became a receptacle for things I ™ll read later . My admin always knew better than to put anything of importance in that black hole. If you want me to see it, put it on my chair so I can sit on it. When I ™m uncomfortable enough, I ™ll pull it out from under me and look at it. Seriously, I used to do this. Multiple cups of pens and pencils, a business card holder, a couple of notebooks, sticky notes and umpteen folders in assorted stacks made up my work area. A blanket draped haphazardly on the back of my chair in case the arctic blast from the A/C came on again. An assortment of trinkets shared the shelf space with awards and books. My filing was on my desk. If a folder actually made it to the file drawer, I would lose it, unable to figure out where I put it. And then there was my drink buffet , as friends affectionately called it. Always present was a big glass of water, a coffee mug and sometimes a soft drink. Never hurts to be hydrated. I could never seem to find time to be as organized as the photos in the magazines or some of the desks that I envied. I thought if I worked from home, things would be different. The home décor magazines would all be calling, to capture my fabulous home office in pictures for all to see. Yeah, right. I believe my home office might even be worse than the one I had at work. Sigh. So what if my home office is not exactly a shining example of organization skills? As long as it works for me, right? I ™ve been trying to relax and not worry about keeping a tidy desk. Then today I read an article that inferred a person's professionalism may be at risk if your workspace is cluttered. Hmm ¦ Some of the points in the article: ¢ Keep only materials you need for current projects on your desk. OK, I need everything. If I didn't need it, I ™d throw it away. ¢ Don't pile papers; put it in a designated area or give it to your colleague. Where's my designated colleague? The one that's supposed to take care of my papers?? Is this article for real? Guess I didn't negotiate a D.C. into my employment agreement. ¢ Go paperless, printing only when necessary. LOL! This may be OK if you don't get many emails with attachments, but with an in-box hitting 3,000 it's better to print than to try and find what you need at a moment's notice. ¢ Don't touch the same piece of paper twice. Huh?? How do they ever get any work done? I ™m sorry, would love to re-read your memo but I can't touch the paper again. You know what I think? A cluttered desk might be a good thing, the sign of someone who's incredibly busy getting work done. I think that those who have a completely clean desk may not have enough work to do. Yep, if they were busy, they wouldn't have time to wear-out their Brother P-Touch. They would be multi-tasking from one project to the next, jumping from one messy pile of folders to the other while conducting a conference call with forty people at the same time. One thing I know for sure: I can put my hand on any folder I might need from the stacks on my desk, even if I were blindfolded. Home décor magazines? You can still come by and see my office, complete with coffee mugs and piles of folders. Just ignore the underwear in the living room.

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