Once upon a time, I had a desk in an office outside of my home. And it was always messy.
No matter how pristine it was when I first sat down at it, within a few weeks it was cluttered with papers and strewn with pens. When I first started doing layout for a large, metropolitan newspaper, the company was still using actual pieces of paper and pens to sketch out the pages, so my ability to generate clutter was on overdrive. But even when we switched to those new-fangled computer things—with massive tube-filled monitors that took up most of the desk space—I merely transferred my clutter to the walls and called it “decor.”
My workspace at home has always had something on the walls, too. When I was in high school, the wall above my desk was festooned with note cards bearing inspirational quotes. When I went to college, I kept photos of friends and family in view of my books and files and folders, and added a calligraphy copy of The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann and pictures of the Earth as seen from the Moon and, as the years progressed, sticky notes and to-do list and whimsical pictures that struck a chord with me.
After 20 years of desks in offices, I work from home now (when I’m not traveling), and I’ve recently reclaimed my home office. It had become the nursery when my youngest children were born, and will be a guest room when our house is full of big kids and grandparents and extended family during the summers, but for now, I’m slowly adding to the “decor.” There are framed newspaper front pages declaring “War” (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Dec. 7, 1941) and “Peace” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 15, 1945) above my desk, which holds two laptops, a cell phone, a land-line, a printer, and a small set of shallow drawers and… that’s it, so far. Oh, and a cup of coffee. But I’m sure that the clutter will find it’s way back in soon.
So, what does my desk say about me? I’m no psychologist, but I’d guess that it’s a reflection of my multitasking superpowers, the fact that I’m in the media, that I live on caffeine, and that, given my cluttered track record, I haven’t been in this particular home office for very long yet.
What does your workspace look like? What do you think it says about you?