Monday, September 26, 2011

Do You Have a Messy Desk?

I just saw this post from Accountant by Day and I winced when I read the post. You see it’s all about one’s (messy or clean) workspace. As I was reading it, I glanced at my desk and realized that it looked like it was hit by a hurricane! I’m not kidding. There are papers, ball pens, notebooks, books, checkbooks, folders, etc., etc. on top of my desk. And I don’t even have my laptop on it, there’s a separate space for that!

But then again, I’m cleaning up for my turn over to whoever will replace me as the accountant of my clients and I can’t really clean up everything in a day. So I have a perfectly good excuse (LOL) for having a cluttered desk.

The post, however, reminded me of my time in the auditing firm. As a junior, we didn’t really have any permanent desks, so we have to learn how to manage our workspace very well. But when I was a senior and a manager, we were given a, more or less, permanent workspace. And that’s when trouble (I mean clutter) began.

Actually, during the lean season, my desk was relatively clean. It was just a bunch of working papers, my writing materials and my laptop on top of my desk. So, no problem about de – cluttering it as I had time to clean up everything before the end of the day (or the week).

But when busy season hits, all clutter breaks loose. Papers started to pile up, working papers started to be shoved to the side (and not in their proper places), note pads and Post It notes were stuck everywhere. There were overnight bags under my desk, an extra pair of shoes and even sandals (for overnight work)! During the last 15 days of the season, my workspace (not just my desk) looked like a mini – house with me literally living in it!

Fortunately for me, I never seem to lose anything. Any paper I’m looking for, I could easily find even with all the clutter. Unfortunately for my staff, they could not wade through all my clutter to find out what they’re looking for so they leave my desk alone and just wait for me to find it for them.

By the last day of the busy season, I had what I call a de – cluttering binge. I’m a fast cleaner. In 2 hours’ time, my desk is squeaky clean, anything that should be filed I gave to my staff (poor them), anything I need to throw away, I gave to the one who’s going to shred them, anything that can be re – used, I put them in their proper places.

At the end of that day, my desk (and my workspace, in general) was so clean that some of my staff and the seniors would ask me if I resigned and it was my last day in the office, that was how free my workspace was from any clutter!

And I’m not the only one who had a messy workspace. One of my former boss’ workspace was really cluttered (and this is all – year round, not just during the busy season). The papers and books were piled so high on his desk that I sometimes joke that I couldn’t see him when I took the seat in front of his desk. Fortunately, the mess on his desk did not affect his work. He’s one of the most intelligent partners I know and our expert in the accounting standards. So having a messy desk or workspace does not exactly translate to a messy, confusing mind (I hope).

So how about you? Do you have a messy desk?


  1. I just first time using your blog but I got very nice information in it. You have to done really great job, I found some valuable information about accounting.

  2. Thanks for the mention. My desk is better, but new work keeps appearing on it.

    I filed EVERYTHING my first year, even stuff that was stored in our software already. I've decided, as a first year, that's fine to do - just go through it all 6 months later when you have a better idea of what is safe to throw out, haha.

  3. My desk have piles of paper but still organized. Many times I get asked by clients if I've ran out of work when my desk is empty and it gives the appearance that we don't have enough work to do. Since then, I've made sure to have one small pile of papers (current, of course) and it gives the appearance that "yes, I have work but I have time for you".

  4. Mmmh

    That sounds creative. I hope not too creative like Frank Dunn of Nortel who is on trial. Someone told me he was a CA who was kicked out. Can anyone confirm?

  5. I usually keep a standing file on the desk so even if it takes a bit of space, it's a constant reminder to put things away. But there are times when the paper piles up...

  6. don't be sad about your messy desk! embrace it! of course it can affect your work because you can feel very overwhelmed with work everywhere. Check this out....
    its a contest for the messiest desk and you still have time! TAKE PRIDE!