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Grinning

How to keep your desk tidy

The BBC are reporting that the government are trying out a new scheme for keeping civil servants' desks tidy. It involves marking out an area of their desk with black tape and telling them they have to keep their pens and things inside that space. People who have read Dave Langford's book The Leaky Establishment are unlikely to be surprised by this scheme.

I thought I'd give it a try at the office to see if it would fit in with my neat, well-organised, and highly efficient workflow:



I think it may need a little fine-tuning. Perhaps if I put the gaffer tape around the entire building instead?
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In the long ago, I worked at a large publishing company where the MD had a fetish for clean desks. At the end of the day, your desk had to be perfectly clear and organised, with no visible paperwork. He had a nasty habit of creeping round offices at night and stealing or destroying anything he though broke the rules. Apparently this was designed to keep us focussed, task-oriented, etc.

In practice, everyone kept a large desk drawer empty, and just as you were leaving, you swept the contents of your desk into it. The result was a good half hour lost every morning while people reconstructed the work they were on with late the previous day, argued over lost pieces of paper and photographs, and generally whinged.

I now favour the volcano theory of desk management. You keep everything in a big pile. If it's important it works its way to the top periodically, if it isn't it falls off the edge. I your boss finally throws a wobbly, you just skim off the top inch of the pile and throw the rest away.

I'd like to work somewhere where I could achieve the Bicycle. Years ago a bloke I was seeing had shared an office with an ageing, messy academic in Denmark, and when the old guy finally died, they excavated his desk and found a bicycle lying on its side, about half way down. His wife said he used to cycle in to work when the weather was good, but one day winter struck hard and early. He'd cycled in, but had to come home on the bus. And the bike had never been seen again. That's class, that is.
I'm the only person who works in this office, and technically the workshop half of it is mine to do what I want with (I pay half the rent), so the whole place has been heading gradually bicycle-wards ever since I moved in. It's currently packed high with random bits of Morris Minor on top of all the other rubbish. Still not as bad as my bedroom/office/workshop when I worked from home though - that got completely insane.