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Cluttered Desk: Is a Cluttered or a Clean Desk a "Sign of a Sick Mind?"

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  • Cluttered Desk: Is a Cluttered or a Clean Desk a "Sign of a Sick Mind?"

    There's an old adage that states, "A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind." Those who follow the philosophy swear that those people whose desks are neat and organized could not possibly be mentally sane, while those with clean desks swear it's the only way to work.

    Is there a better way when it comes to your workspace? Or is the clean desk vs. cluttered desk debate more a matter of personal preference?

    Some Say Cluttered Desks Can Make You Sick

    There is actually a sickness associated with working long hours at a cluttered desk (often with poor posture, as well): irritable desk syndrome (IDS).

    According to researchers at NEC-Mitsubishi, a computer-monitor manufacturer, many office workers are suffering from IDS, which can cause chronic pain, loss of productivity and other physical and mental symptoms. In fact, a survey of 2,000 office workers found that:
    • 40 percent said they were "infuriated by too much clutter and paper on their desks but could not be bothered to do anything about it."
    • 35 percent said they had back or neck pain because they knowingly had poor posture or an awkward position while at their desk.

    "What most individuals fail to realize is that desk symptoms typically escalate very quickly, from persistent discomfort to chronic pain, which can end a person's career and reduce their quality of life in a wide range of ways," said Nigel Robertson, the study's lead author and noted "deskologist."

    Further, other experts maintain that working at a cluttered desk is simply less time-effective, as workers must devote time and attention to finding what they need, before they even get to their regular assignments.

    "Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one and a half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That's seven and a half hours per week," says time-management speaker and consultant Dr. Donald E. Wetmore.

    Or, Are Messy People The More Efficient Ones?

    On the other side of the fence are those who assert that "moderately disorganized" people are actually more efficient, resilient and creative than those who are extremely organized.

    In fact, a survey by Eric Abrahamson, a professor of management at Columbia University's School of Business, and David H. Freedman, co-authors of a book titled "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder," found that a messy desk can be quite beneficial.

    "There are people who spend all day keeping things in their places who really wish they had time to do other things," Freedman says. "But they feel obligated to do this."

    According to the survey, workers who said they keep a "very neat" desk spend an average of 36 percent more time looking for things than those with a "fairly messy" desk.

    "That's because it takes time to put every paper in its place in a filing cabinet or folder," Freedman says. Meanwhile, those who are more cluttered put things in "surprisingly sophisticated" piles in which they know where to find things.

    What to do if You're EXCESSIVELY Clean or Messy

    There are clearly arguments for the benefits of being neat or a bit cluttered, but most benefits hinge on being so in moderation. People who are either excessively clean or excessively messy will likely run into undue stress from being too concerned about neatness or so disorganized that they really can't find what they need.

    If you find you are obsessively concerned about being clean, or are messy beyond the norm, The Sedona Method, a scientifically proven technique that shows you how to uncover your natural ability to let go of any unwanted feeling or behavior in the moment, can help.

    You have an inherent ability to let go of any negative feeling you like, whether it's an obsession with neatness or a tendency to procrastinate and let things pile up excessively, and The Sedona Method has already helped hundreds of thousands of people to tap this natural ability.

    The Sedona Method consists of a series of questions you ask yourself that lead your awareness to what you are feeling in the moment and gently guide you into the experience of letting go. Best of all, once you learn it, you can use this process anytime, anyplace, to improve just about any area of your life.
    Purchase Letting Go Movie on DVD
    Purchase Beyond Letting Go
    Purchase The Sedona Method Course
    Learn The Sedona Method in 2 hours.