… and who am I to argue with a best-selling author, whose works continue to sell and be made into films and television series?
For some people, a desk is something other people have to sit behind, but for many of us, it is an essential piece of furniture, whether we toil in a cubicle, open office, or in our den at home. The basic elements apply, even if you just spread out in a booth at a BreadCo or Starbucks.
I do wonder if some additional information is necessary, though. Here are some quick diagnostic questions to ponder as you go about your daily work. If you do not have a desk, take a few minutes to create a visual image of a desk that you might use, then answer the questions:
HOW DO YOU PHYSICALLY USE YOUR DESK?
WHAT IS ON IT?
What you choose or have to surround yourself with will make a difference in your attitude and productivity. Take a few minutes to inventory all the tools, business information, and personal items occupy space. List them all, from computer units and phones, right down to paper clips and notepads.
Awareness creates control … when you know exactly what is on top of your desk, you can begin to make decisions about what you want to have on that desktop. Works the exact same way for what is inside the desk too … think duplicate files and supply stashes.
HOW ORGANIZED IS IT?
The level of organization reflects the organization in your mind, which will either support or detract from your personal productivity. Look at your desk and determine whether things are in logical locations based on their use and information is kept in a clear and logical way.
HOW CLUTTERED IS IT?
While related, organization and clutter are not just opposite ends of a personal organization continuum, as some believe. They are separate and distinct manifestations of your perception toward that space you inhabit on a daily basis.
One can be highly organized, but also have a highly cluttered desktop. Clutter occurs when the amount of “stuff” prevents you from operating at maximum effectiveness. For example, some believe they need to keep files or information on which they must act or make a decision in front of them, so they do not forget to do whatever is being asked. This is how a desktop becomes covered with important clutter, which in turn acts as a distraction, rather than a reminder.
WHAT CAN YOU SEE FROM YOUR DESK?
Not what is on your desktop … that has already been covered above. Look up and look out and reflect on what you see. A cubicle wall with colored thumb tacks is a different view from a window that looks out onto luscious green growing things or rolling water. A rooftop or parking lot does not affect you in the same way as an awesome skyline or artistic images.
You make not have complete control over what you can see from your desk, but there is a reason why posters usually show people sitting in deck chairs gazing at the waves coming in to shore.
HOW DO YOU EMOTIONALLY USE YOUR DESK?
… AS A FORTRESS?
Some folks hide behind or at their desk, thinking that they only control this small bit of real estate and must protect it from all comers. Change is viewed as negative or risky, so the goal is to protect the desk and what lies upon it at all cost.
Those with authority, responsibility, and leadership titles might be most prone to using their desk as a weapon to reinforce their superiority, but line workers are not immune to this. Sometimes the desk represents all the information that you control, and you create personal power by guarding that information from “others”.
… AS AN ANCHOR?
Think “ball and chain” type of anchor. Some folks are so identified with their desk that they experience a sense of irrational connection of the desk with their emotional state.
An anchor can be a positive thing, keeping you safe and steady in the midst of turmoil … this is not that kind of anchor.
If you have ever worked at a job you did not like. with people you did not like, or in an environment which you did not like, you may have viewed your desk as an unwanted and heavy anchor, keeping you pinned down and depressed.
… AS A BARRIER?
For those who are bosses, the temptation to see and use our desk as an extension of our power and authority is strong. We sit behind a larger desk, as those who report to us approach, like subjects petitioning the king on his throne.
In these cases, the desk becomes a wall to keep others at a distance and prevent the creation of collaboration, connection, and community.
ANOTHER OPTION EXISTS:
… AS A DOORWAY?
We live and work in much larger, more complex, challenging, and exciting worlds than our ancestors. We ought to take advantage of what we have at our disposal.
Many of us enjoy incredible potential ower through those items on our desktop, especially the online ones. How you view and harness the incredible amount of information has much to do with your general attitude about work and about yourself.
… and do not forget the incredible connections and collaboration that sometimes can only happen through your desktop.
… and even if you do not have a computer on your desk to access the online world, you can still use your desktop as a doorway to more than you imagined. Make your desktop, and by extension, your work area, inviting, interesting, and professional. Make it a comfortable place for others to be, as you discuss, share, and collaborate.
There is more than one way to create doorways …
Just some thoughts around work spaces and environments for you to consider this damp Spring morning in the Heartland ….