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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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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