Sitting here behind my desk at the Massachusetts HQ of Design News one day, I thought -- what a mess! I found myself looking at a couple empty Coke cans, a half-empty water bottle, my tangled mess of a telephone cord, and more yellow Post-its than I care to count.
It got me thinking... If my desk is this messy (remember, I'm a magazine editor), what must the desks of our readers look like? Don't get me wrong, we've been down this road. My colleagues at EE Times, Brian Fuller and Alex Wolfe (formerly DN's content director), have outted all you messy engineers before.
But, I'm doing it again. I put the call out and four brave, albeit messy, engineers responded. Click on the link below to see photos of their workspaces (though I can't imagine how they actually get any work done)!
Erich Voigt, an engineer in Cape Town, South Africa, says, "My Home Desk? Damn! It was here somewhere..."
Tom M, when I started there, well I had some tools from previous jobs, but like every job there were some specific ones you needed. The company supplied them, but I could never find them. That led to me buying all my own tools which I shouldn't have had to do.
It's just different when you HAVE to work with other people and share things, totally different when you have your own cube or office. If the work gets done, who cares to each their own.
When I was a manager I never told the people working for me how to keep their area organized, I just expected them to be able to do their job. Messy, clean, no matter, as long as you do your job it's OK by me.
The problem came when I had 2 guys working for me, one who was messy (and forgetful) and another who was very organized. The problem was that the messy guy tended to lose his tools because he never put them back where they belonged, instead he would just leave them where he last used them. Then when he needed a tool he wouldn't look for his, if the organized guy wasn't around he would grab his tools (without telling him or leaving a note), use them, and then usually lose those! I had to referee a couple of shouting matches between these guys.
I told the messy guy this was about respect, he couldn't take stuff other people were responsible for (or sometimes even owned personally) without permission. He said look I'm just trying to get the job done as quickly as possible, I don't have time to clean up every 5 minutes. I told him every 5 days would probably be OK but I had never seen him arrange his area at all. Again, that's up to him but he can't mess up another guy's area or hinder him in doing his job.
I finally bought the organized guy a tool cabinet and gave him the only key. That solved the tool problem but there was still resentment between the guys. Along with The Great Ongoing Thermostat Argument - a subject for another time - this is why I got out of management!
Darwine, you bring up an interesting concept thatI had not considered previously. BUT it does make sense. Clearly, havng an adequate amount of space to work in is a way to enable greater productivity. But space alone may not be nessesary as the only way. Having the needed resources helps a lot also.
Im also having hard time to clean my office desks. Rearranging all my stuff is not easy. It'll take time since I was loaded with a lot of tasks. Simple thing I'm doing to clean it up: I separate the unecessary items to avoid distraction.
As DeMarco and Lister showed in Peopleware http://amzn.to/12NzfR7 productivity is directly proportional to one's office floor space and directly proportional to one's desktop area. So why do we still find ourselves engineering the world in such (clearly) cramped quarters?
There is a HUGE difference between neat and organized, and at the same time, they are not mutually exclusive. BUt some take neatness to a stupid extreme. When I worked at Methode Electronics Division they got a new lab manager whose lack ot technical skills was more than made up for by his penchant for neatness. The extreme was rearranging the shelves where the different engineers stored their project materials. Insteaqd of each engineer having a specific shelf for their materials, he moved things so that each shelf had a similar looking arrangement of boxes and packages, with no consideration of what belonged to whom. So folks would need to go through all of the shelves to find their parts. That was neatness taken to a stupid level.
I am a bit let down at only scoring # 2 in this second leg of this "competition" but I am chuffed in getting 50% of the picture coverage even though the last pic was not really representative of the matter at hand – The photos were taken to do a 360° panorama of the room and dates to somewhere in the 200x's – I should possibly have taken a new set of pics as technology has changed the general theme of the area somewhat.
My apologies to contradict some of the Clean Desk proponents here but, I can assure you that I can, 99.9 % of the time, lay my hand on any tool, device, screw, component, whatever might be in my study.
The subject of this thread restricted the entries to "desks" else I could have taken you though the door at the end of my study to my garage that probably contains 2 x as much stuff as does my study but more boxed and stored away than here in my area of activity.
As far as documents go, once a year, I capture everything required to submit my Tax Returns from the year's (Pandora's)(photocopy)) box and then file it way marked clearly with that tax year's dates.
I can find the sales slip of the new kettle I bought 18 months ago (as well as the box it was packed in) and return it for its 24 month warrantee as I can for the Pioneer Quadrophonic sound system I bought 40 years ago and still works in the lounge ( as well as it's boxes in the roof of the garage!)
And then I probably do not need to remind anyone of the layout of the human brain? Also a "mess" and, to date, man has been able to discover what certain area do but for the rest, they have no idea what gives. But I can recover images and thoughts for most of my 65 years with such speed and clarity "it boggles the mind!"
I remember when I was a machinist I kept my toolbox perfect as well as the shop itself. Every tool in it's place. I worked 1st shift and I would almost always spend 20-30 minutes every morning cleaning up what 2nd and 3rd shift had done. I just couldn't work in the mess. It was pretty bad.
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