Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Clutter blog.

Some claptrap over the transom today:

“25 Tips to Help Readers Get Organized At Work and Beyond
*Free Article for Your Publication

“Just because it's nearly the end of January, doesn't mean it's too late to get organized or give up on those New Year's resolutions. Any time is a great time to increase productivity, effectiveness and profits, and one of the easiest ways to do it is by managing one's paperwork, digital files and time better.

“A clean desk can say a lot, according to business organizing expert Barbara Hemphill. An organized desk can help your readers move up in the corporate world, or simply manage their business and profits more effectively.”

Oh, yeah? Any studies to back this up? Has anybody measured the productivity of a worker in a cluttered office vs. one in a tidy office, assuming useful definitions of each could be established and agreed upon? (Puzzled silence.) I thought so. A cluttered office is a less productive place to work because, well, everybody knows that. You spend time looking for things that you’d otherwise spend organizing the place.

So we have to fall back on anecdotal evidence. I won’t disparage anecdotes, since I spend a lot of time writing them down, and think they can be very useful in understanding the world. So, anecdotally, I’ve seen ’em cluttered, and I’ve seen ’em tidy. I haven’t, however, noticed a difference in that regard between a successful company and a failing one. The president of a failing company I once worked for used to keep his beautiful wooden desk spotless. It was a marvel, that desk, wonderfully empty and cleaned to a high gloss, till the day the repo men came and took it away. True anecdote, though for a while the president floated the story that burglars had nicked it.

Still, in my visits into corporate America, I’ve noticed that CEOs and the like do tend to keep their desks free of papers and other clutterish items. Is this because their innate organization skills have assisted their rise to be captains of industry? Or is it fashion, like wearing expensive suits? Or does it mean that other people in the company are doing the day-to-day paper-intensive work that the boss doesn’t need to bother with anymore?


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