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..."
I recently won a "clean desk award" at work, which was a source of amusement to my co-workers, since, as a failure analyst, my desk is covered with broken parts. (Although it is nothing like the desks in this slideshow!)
On the other hand, there were no confidential documents on my desk, which is what the clean desk police were looking for. Other co-workers, who have otherwise immaculate desks, were denied the prize because they had a phone list next to their phone -- apparently, our phone list is confidential.
The prize was a free lunch in the company cafeteria -- who says there's no such thing?
When I first got hired, we had a lot of messy desks with a lot of material. Their self-made excuse was they could find everything they needed and only went to the stock room very rarely. This way they saved time. Then I parked myself in the middle of the lab with a stop watch. It turned out that we spent less time going to the stock room then looking for anything in a messy desk. 3 weeks later and 5 boxes (5'x5'x5' boxes) of trash we actually have desk space to work on. Now we only order what we need. No searching as everything is ordered in Microsoft access. And you don't lose your current project to a trash avalanche.... Now I was lucky some one senior to me listened and agreed with throwing everything out. Later he forced everyone else to participate. To this day people still complain how they could find things in an instant before the cleanup. Junk that you will not use the next 6 months, 1 year, 2 years should not be saved but rather recycled. It should all be proportional to its value, size, and frequency of use.
Wow!! I thought an ex-coworker's desk was messy but nothing compared to the ones in the slide show. He had what I called a functional messy office. The man could find anything at any time on his desk and floor piles. It was amazing.
These are some impressively messy desks. Mike Carter gets the Biggest Mess award because his work space appears to be tipping over. Erich Voight is a close second based on sheer scope. It must take a great deal of fortitude to continue working under these conditions.
Jenn, I think the fact that you were inspired to do this slideshow by your own messy desk is funny. Mine used to be pretty insane back in the day, and someone told me it was a sign of a creative mind. That was comforting, and I always knew where everything was. But then I lost something really important in the stack--a credit card bill--and there were, um, consequences. Now I try to clean it up a lot more often. Plus, the available desktop area has gotten much smaller, so, I have to.
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