Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Messy Desk? Sign of Failure or Success?

I once heard a preacher say that he could tell if a fellow minister was going to succeed in ministry by looking in his top desk drawer. If it was messy, the man was doomed to failure as a pastor. If it was tidy, he would succeed. Because this was a Bible teacher I trusted and admired, his assessment scared me a little. My husband, a pastor, has a messy desk. Although I keep my desk at my paying job tidy, my writing desk at home cannot seem to stay clean for more than a week. Does this mean we are destined to fail at our careers? Or that I can succeed at managing an office, but not at writing?

Recently I saw the photo below, and was greatly encouraged.

Can you guess whose desk this is? (I'll tell you at the end of this post)



I also read the list below, and was further encouraged:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Sigmund Freud

According to David Freedman, co-author of A Perfect Mess, “Some people claim that having a messy desk is a sign of being a more creative person. I don't think it's true that someone who has a very neat desk is necessarily an uncreative person, and I've seen accountants with very messy desks and artists with extremely neat desks. But it's true that creativity is largely about making surprising connections, and a messy desk is certainly a way of mixing and matching things in sometimes interesting ways.”

So, if you have a messy desk, take heart. You can succeed at your chosen career. Just like Albert Einstein, the man whose desk is in the above photo.

If you keep a tidy, clean environment, I applaud you.

And if you think you are so messy you qualify for major help, you may find it at Messies Anonymous.

How does your desk look today? Do you have areas of your life that are messy, and others neat, like me? What do you think this says about us?


  1. I don't have a messy area but neither is it tidy. I think it's comfortable. Also, it annoys me when neat people try to make themselves sound good by putting down those who aren't neat. People are funny with the things they say, and sometimes hurtful.
    Never fear! You and your messy ways are obviously in good company! *grin*

  2. I'm like Jessica, I don't have things super tidy, but you wouldn't call my house/desk messy. I like to think of myself as easy going and not too uptight about life. Who wants to be the Messy Police anyway? ;)

  3. I was just thinking this morning how frustrated I was b/c the kids always leave toys on my desk. Messy desk. Neat and tidy mind, I guess. Ha! I laughed out loud.
    ~ Wendy

  4. My desk is usually a parking lot for all manner of cars and trucks. They drive back and forth, line up, and then disperse, parking helter skelter.

    Since this means I have a healthy, creative little buddy in size 4T blue jeans, I'll take the vehicles and say 'thank you' for them.

  5. I seem to need order in my life. My laptop sits at my dining room table with a small pile of papers on one side. :O)

  6. I like things relatively neat... too much clutter interferes with my thought process when I'm trying to write. It's a "cluttered desk equals cluttered mind" kind of thing for me, so I usually organize my space before I start. Of course it never stays tidy!


  7. I have lamented that my desk usually looks overwhelmed with paper and piles.

    But it's often with stuff I've got my finger in to work on..... although there is that ubiquitous pile on the side that gathers the 'where should I put this... okay I'll put it here until I know what to do with it' what-nots!

    I do think I'll check out that link.......

  8. I just want a desk! If I had one, I'm sure it would be a medley of both:)

  9. Brenda: I love the word ubiquitous! Thanks for saying it!

  10. Messy desk here... no matter how hard I try, the desk is always the worst. But I can close the door on it and keep the rest of the house tidy. So if you want to connect that I try to keep up appearance on the outside while inside I'm a mess... you probably wouldn't be far off, though I hope everyone sees what a mess I really am without Him. He does my clean up.

  11. I have security when my desk gets messy cause then it really gives me something to do and pick up and feel good about my organizing skills:)

  12. Me? I am a messy person. People who think they know me are surprised when I tell them I can't find something. One of our church secretaries thinks I am organized and can find things quickly. But she's wrong. I got marked down on employee evaluations for having a messy desk-but I knew where everything was.

  13. I used to be so neat. A perfectionist. Now I'm still relatively neat, but can work more in a mess showing that I am letting go of needing to be in control. I admire those that can work in chaos--chaotic organization is what I like to call it!

  14. Good post. I used to be more tidy, but parenting quickly made me choose between what is urgent and what can wait and usually a clean desk is down on the list of to-dos.

  15. OH, Jen, what a super post! LOL Glad you didn't ask us to show PICS of our desks. Would you give us a prize for the messiest? :)

    Thanks for the fun.

  16. Hi Jen -

    Oh, this post is for me! It gives me hope.

    I'm waging an ongoing battle with a messy office. It's not a lack of storage or organization tools. Running three blogs, a business, writing, social media, and life mean there's lots going on - and lots of paper to prove it!

    Susan :)

  17. Yes, Caroline, this is a great idea! Whoever wants to send me a photo of their desk, I will give a super duper prize for the messiest! My email is jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com.

    You are a genius!

  18. I heard that same preacher!
    And ever since, the condition of my dresser drawers has given me fits! My desk, however, is not that bad. I have a hard time getting the creative part of my brain moving when there's a lot of messiness around me - physical OR spiritual!

  19. I don't have a desk really, but if I did, I'm sure it would be messy! lol



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