Do you need a clean office to work?

There are many upsides to working at home. But one of the downsides is that generalized house clutter quickly becomes workspace clutter. With small children, there is just no avoiding a certain amount of messiness. I took a few minutes yesterday evening to put all the books back on the shelves in my boys’ room, only to come back 10 minutes later to find the baby pulling them all off again. There was a certain cosmic message in this, I think. He could have chosen any other part of the house to wreck, so why did he choose the one area which I had just spent time cleaning? I will, of course, never get those minutes back.

Even if I try, in a small-ish apartment, that messiness extends into my work area. Of course, I can’t say I try that hard. Except when I don’t feel like working. Because here’s the worst part of it all: while I usually let clutter sit, it can become an easy procrastination excuse in a pinch. I have to clean the place so I can think! I’ll just take a few minutes away from writing this essay to pick things up and… hey, is it 5:00 already?

I am curious how other home office workers deal with this. Do you need a clean desk to think? Or do you prefer to surround yourself with anything you might ever need? How do you keep other family members’ messes from extending into your workspace? And if the messes do build up, how do you keep the mess from becoming a priority when other things really need to be?

5 thoughts on “Do you need a clean office to work?

  1. I am having trouble getting motivated today after a full (aka fun but exhausting) weekend with toddler … and yes, I started cleaning the office. I do find that going through things helps me see things that I need to get done (or just getting rid of the paperwork is helpful) but is also a procrastination thing.
    I am also pregnant and it is true what they say about nesting (aka feeling of wanting to rip everthing out).
    I’ve been meaning to get on tape that book about happiness where the woman, whose work you have recommended, talks about cleaning your closets as a secret to happiness. I’m scared to go through my closets pregnant b/c you don’t really know what fits, but I do think about 30% of my clothes could go and I’d like to make room for some new things!

  2. Sadly, I *do* need a clean office in which to work. The alternative is the inability to focus and/or random twitching. So I try to keep things to a dull roar, clutter-wise. I keep the family’s stuff out by having an office in the basement. I also have a little work desk in the corner of the kitchen; it tends to collect the clutter. Someday I’ll have ONE office, on the first floor, with an electric fence. 😉

  3. I need a somewhat cluttered desk, and floor around it. Since I write and do crazy artist things like paint and play Chopin, I find my memory is overwhelmingly visual. The piles on my desk are piles of my thoughts. I see the pile, I know what’s in it and, more, what I need to be thinking about with it.

    For the same reason, my website design tend to be big grids with masses of posts laid out in blocks.


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