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 must spend 25-30% of the time I am working on something looking for where I put a particular tool (usually the tape measure) or pencil. I actually buy 2 or 3 of just about every tool so when I go back to a project, the tools are nearby. Otherwise I would have to go looking all over the house, garage and shed to find something I need.
That's exactly what I want to avoid: wasting time looking for "tools" needed to do the job--including pieces of paper if it's in the office--instead of doing the fun part. My kitchen is highly organized for that reason. I love to cook, but I hate to not find a tool in it's place. Now if only I could keep my office as organized as my kitchen...
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.
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!"
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.
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