Is My Desk Clean or Cluttered?

I cleaned my desk this week. I’d been thinking about it for months, so it was a little embarrassing to realize it took less than half an hour to tame all the stacks and piles. I even dealt with all the unfinished business the scraps of paper and notes represented in that short time. If I hadn’t been so sure it was a monumental task, I might have been enjoying a clean desk for months now.

My clean but cluttered desk. Works for me!
My clean but cluttered desk. Works for me!

As soon as I was done, I felt like throwing a party. My desk was clean! But even as I was tweeting my joy, I realized that other people might look at my desk and think I had more work to do. In the past, I would have thought so myself, because I keep a lot of stuff on my desk all the time.

I often admire the crisp, clean lines of a modern room that has minimal decoration and only the essentials present. The bare surfaces and empty spaces look so peaceful, I was sure I was missing out. When I visited someone with a clutter-free home, their stark, neat space felt cold and dead to me, and I didn’t like it. But I kept thinking I should.

Everyone's desk should look like this... right? (After you put the book away, of course.)
Everyone’s desk should look like this… right? (After you put the book away, of course.)

Then I found this article about remodeling your office and learned how a person’s best mode for learning predicts the sort of environment they are most productive in.
Visual learners love color but need things tidy. Auditory learners are extra-clean, and prefer neutrals to strong colors. Kinesthetic learners care most how their space feels.

I learn most easily by seeing and doing, a mix of visual and kinesthetic modes. Knowing that, I look at my clean desk and see it fits who I am. I have the colorful things that make my desk feel like home, all tidy and in their place.

I like to have lots of books within easy reach, especially reference books, my reading journals, and my current notebooks. I also have toys and talismans to look at, things that make me smile. I keep my daily planner open on the desk because I value the ease of instant access to my schedule over having that space clear.

A few of the precious items I like having close.
A few of the precious items I like having close.

When the piles begin to grow, my Visual Learner gets cranky. But since my dominant Kinesthetic Learner doesn’t mind the mess, I put up with it for long stretches of time, until the sobbing of the Visual Learner finally gets to me. Then I take pity on her and spend a little time making things look neat.

What about you? What does your clean desk look like? Does the link between learning mode and preferred environment apply to you?

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