Kat in her tidy officeWhat does your desk environment look like?

Does it add to your feelings of overwhelm and frustration?

The answer for many people is … YES!

Yet, for many others, the state of their cluttered desks and offices just … is.

They’ve grown used to it.  Or ignore it. Or choose to live with whatever negative energies it might be triggering in them.

Some claim that they need the chaos to thrive. That it, somehow, enhances their abilities, creativity, and stamina. Sort of what Samson’s hair did for him.

They revel in being productive in spite of it … or because of it.

Others fear what they may lose if their areas were cleaned with junk and obsolete notes and files discarded, and organization imposed on the useful items remaining.

A solid foot in both camps

Personally, I’m guilty of not always doing what I preach. I LOVE working in a clean and tidy environment. Yet, there are many periods throughout the year when neither my home, nor my home office, are showcases of organized brilliance and clarity.

Kat's messy deskPerhaps “guilty” is not the most accurate term to describe how I feel about the often messy state of my environment. I only sense guilt when a particular mess creates negative energy that manifests in feelings of overwhelm and frustration.

Yet, sometimes certain messes, which might look to others to be an overwhelming disaster in the making, produce  a sense of pride and achievement in the making. Such as when I’m waist deep in organizing buckets of notes and reference items that are all part of a project that’s finally moved from idea to a bonafide work-in-progress.

Ah, yes!

Now there’s a mess I can embrace and live within for an extended period of time!

Your messes — your feelings

Not surprisingly, one of the first things many of my clients want help with is tackling the overwhelm and chaos of their environments. They yearn for clarity yet are fearful of what organization and tidiness might do to their innate creativity and resourcefulness. They often most fear their assumed inability to keep things clean and tidy once they commit to change.

Many question their sanity in even thinking about an attempt to bring order to the chaos.

After all, there are often others to blame for the state of the clutter and chaos. Right?  Hmmmm.

Productivity and success with a heathly dose of clutter on the side

In my world, you aren’t likely to succeed without some disorganization and clutter along the path from time to time. Recognizing messes for what they are and are not is an important factor in your journey to success.

Perhaps it’s time to take an in-depth look at how you can be productive in spite of … or because of … the messes cluttering your environment.

In the meantime, take a look at the state of the work environments of some other famous and not-so-famous folks by clicking HERE.  That link will take you to an article on LinkedIn – Where I Work featuring 50+ Places Where Great Ideas Are Born.

I invite you to share your own experiences … and the various clean / messy states of your own work environments in the comment section below. It’s a wonderful way to get and give encouragement and support to each other.


  • My desk and home are very much cluttered. I know that I would feel better with it clear, yet I have developed quite a comfort level with it being as it is. 🙂 Sometimes the thought of clearing it is at least if not more overwhelming than leaving it as it is. However, I don’t allow others in my home area because of it and that cuts off some otherwise potential relationships.

    • Cindy, that’s a healthy attitude to take, as long as you’re sure the clutter (in general or just specific areas or types of it) aren’t masking hidden barriers that are holding you back in other ways. For instance, I’ve had clients who kept pristine homes and home offices, but their file strategies and follow-through were disasters. Everything was away and out-of-sight, but they faced major overwhelmed when trying to locate things in their files or put together a useful action plan.

  • Hey Kathy,

    This is a subject I’ve never had an issue with. Now for the life of me I have no idea who I inherited this from but it was no one in my immediate family.

    My friends love to call me annoyingly organized. Yep, I’ve been that way as long as I can remember so my desk has never looked like that and neither has my home or my life. Back when I was in corporate America, I was hired because of my organizational skills and I prospered in my career.

    I know that so many people are not like me but it’s just really hard for me to relate to chaotic mess. It’s a topic though that a lot of people need assistance with. Glad you’re able to help them.


    • Hi Adrienne. Thanks for sharing your experiences. When I worked as an advertising account executive, I was also known for being amazingly organized. But it was easier in a traditional office environment. At home, I “can” be amazingly organized, and love it when I am. But since I like juggling many different projects and a little disorganization doesn’t bother me, I’m not motivated enough to stay super organized. I do know my limits though … when that one little thing out of place … or when searching unnecessarily for something that should be in its place … triggers the gene that shouts “Get your systems back in order!”

  • Hi Kathy. My motto is “A clean desk is the sign of an empty mind.” He-he! I have a couple of videos on YouTube that showed me going from “Oh, my gosh!” to neat and tidy. I wax and wane on tidiness, but I am generally aggravated when my desk is messy because I can’t find anything.

    Of course, I’ve just closed my music studio and am trying to find places for what’s left of 4 rooms of music and instruments I haven’t sold or given away. So I’m back in a bit of a mess. Sigh ….

    It’s only temporary, but I am glad to know that other people are similarly challenged. Thanks for an entertaining post.

    All the best,

    • Glad you mentioned those before and after videos of you office, Leslie. I happened to watch them yesterday. I’m usually pretty organized but at least once each year I go into purge file mode and for a while my office looks like a disaster zone. Happens, too, sometimes when I’m bringing together a major project and sorting out all of the bits and pieces of research and notes and what-not.

      You make a good point. Those conditions ARE temporary for us…and we know it. It’s when temporarily turns chronic and feels like it’s been like that forever, or will be the same as far as one can imagine into the future, well, then that’s a different obstacle and rooting out any emotional or behavioral barriers that are hidden is the best next action step to take.

      Helping clients identifying obstacles, uncover hidden barriers and create solutions that work for them is my favorite part of what I do.

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