Friday, March 27, 2009

Neat or Cluttered? Show Me YOUR Workspace!

Okay. This is me on one of my better days, after spending an hour cleaning up the office. Still a bit of clutter on the desk, but nothing like the dozens of notes previously taped to the cabinet on the left, or covering every inch of space to my right. Not bad for me, if I do say so myself.

My husband shakes his head every time he wanders into my office. I keep the rest of the house relatively neat and clean, but this is MY PERSONAL SPACE, a place where 'to do' lists vie for attention with works in progress, promo reminders, notes on research, and every other imaginable thing a writer accumulates while trying to pen that next best seller book. Yes, it all looks rather disorganized, but I can put my finger on any needed item at any needed time.

At least, most of the time I can. Oh, sure. A few things get lost along the way, but give me time -- an hour...or two...or three -- and I can usually find what I'm looking for. And if I can't find it, did I really need it?? Of course not! If it was truly important, I wouldn't have lost it in the first place!

Anyway, that's my rationale, and I'm sticking to it. Now, how about you? Is your motto "A place for everything, and everything in its place"? Or like me, do you squirrel away notes and reminders in little cubby holes in your desk, and tape them up on handy spots like doors and bulletin boards and even windows when you run out of other space?

Send me an email telling me whether you're neat or disorderly, organized or disorganized, when it comes to your workspace, and why that's right for you. And if you'd like, include a picture of your personal workspace with your message. I'll post some of the best excuses...I mean, reasons...for why you keep your workspace as you do right here on my blog.

Not only that, but I'll send a copy of my latest book, THE RUNE STONE MURDERS, to the five people who submit the most creative explanations or most fascinating pictures.

Write to me at . What do you have to lose? Wouldn't YOU like a free book??


  1. I try, but being neat doesn't come natural to me. As soon as I clean up, I mess up.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Neat does not work for me. I'm a jewelry designer and if everything is put away it takes too long to drag it all out to see what goes with what. Chaos is my middle name, and my studio looks like the aftermath of Katrina. But I work well like this, seeing all sorts of designs and patterns in the mess that surrounds me. Personally, I find it inspiring, but I think it drives my family crazy.

  3. Mary, my room is clean and my desk is semi-neat too. I like to keep things organized, if my cats don't knock things over on my desk. That's why I make sure there's room for them to climb aboard and lay down on my desk, as I pet them and work at the same time.

  4. Sticky notes with non-sensical messages , biz cards that have no meaning or use, losing lottery tickets (sigh), catalogs, etc., all over my desk.

    I'm much more productive when I'm organized, so on this rainy day, I'm cleaning my desk!


  5. How about "organized chaos?" Or computer area looks like we've had a major storm event, but really it's quite organized. My review guidelines for various sites are nice and handy right under the lastest recipes that I've printed but haven't tried and coupons and rebate forms I've printed. All of which are still resting by the computer because I use a site here that lists the three major groceries' weekly ads to decide where I'm shopping. I make out my shopping list right here by the computer, so of coarse I need the recipes, coupons and rebates....
    Then there are the minutes and agendas for the various boards I'm on. The new trend seems to be to email these things ahead of time so that we can print our copies at home. So I do before I "lose" the email down inthe inbox somewhere. But the meeting isn't for a couple of weeks...more piles.
    Then there is the notebook with author names and titles of books or CDs or movies I want to look for.....
    Chaos? yes, but organized.

  6. It may be a mystery to others but I can usually find what I need in this organized clutter which includes way too many scraps of paper, envelopes, catalogs, newsletters, and various printouts. Didn't someone say that an empty desk was the sign of an empty mind?


  7. Wow, I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that works that way! My desk at home looks like that as well as my desk at work (or it did). Unfortunately my boss is one of those that wants the desk top cleared at night, and looking like no one works there! I, however, know what pile everything is in, and how to find it if I need it. What do other people do with all those things that you need to keep but don't have a place to put them? It truly baffles me.

    I am a little neater when it comes to books, but only a little. I have stacks and boxes labeled "Read" and "Unread". That's as good as it gets! The bookshelves are two or three deep, so I have to rely on my memory when I go book hunting. Yes, I suppose I could do better, but how much fun would that be?

  8. Thanks for all your comments! Nice to know I'm not the only slo...I mean, not neat person, when it comes to my workspace. Patti, I LOVE your jewelry! Very cool! And Kristen, I know exactly what you mean about cats. My Shadow used to love to sit on my lap when I worked at the computer Spell check came in very handy when he was around! Mary Cunningham was cleaning this weekend, and so was I. Threw away tons of old papers, notes that I no longer need. Caryn, I love your definition of "organized chaos". The same could apply to raising kids. :) And Shirley, you had an equally good comment when you said an empty desk is like an empty mind. (At least it's a good excuse for me and my clutter!) Keizerfire seems to be the neatest of us all, and I applaud you! Of course, home isn't like work where those nasty bosses demand things of us that we wouldn't normally do. Still, I love your labeled boxes. :)

  9. Isn't neat in the eye of the beholder? I know where everything is, so it it looks like a mess to someone else, that's ok. As long as they touch NOTHING! hee hee


  10. You got it, Nicole. DO NOT TOUCH! is the order of the day. I absolutely HATE it when someone (aka, my husband) starts fooling around on the computer and MOVES MY STUFF! That was NOT in the marriage contract!

    Oh, dear. This is starting to sound like a rant! :)

  11. If it's a rant, it must be a common one. I'm the same way. Though, have you ever noticed that husbands can't find their own stuff, either?

  12. Of course they can't find it! They put stuff in their sock drawers, or under the bed in brown paper bags, or down in the basement in their workrooms -- places they THINK they'll remember. But of course they never do. Can't tell you how many times my husband has claimed I moved something of his, or that one of the boys borrowed it, only to find what he was looking for three days later. I think I feel a blog post coming on, Jen. I really do. :)

  13. Mary,
    My office is my sanctuary. I live by post it notes-taped everyhwere there is a bit of space. I have a cholocate bar hanging on the wall, it's from Simone Elkeles' 3 book sale deal-I hung it up as a reminder and motivator-if anyone knows me they know I don't take chocolate lightly. Of course now it's just too old to eat. I love the pictures.
    Margot Justes

  14. Mary, is that a pack of cigarettes to the left of your monitor and a Tupperware container to the right? I trust that container didn't have food from a week ago. My work space is rather neat because hubby complains if he can't find any of his "stuff." Course it doesn't bother him to mess up the rest of the house. I do use the dining room table for my laptop and that is cluttered with research papers and notepads. Good thing we use the kitchen table for meals and that we don't entertain.