Tidy desk seminar/”Mein Schreibtisch, frei und aufgeräumt”

This is not a description of my desk but the title of the seminar for translators I went to in Munich on Saturday. It was about keeping your desk tidy. Of course, an untidy desk is a symptom rather than a disease.

Here is a picture of a translator’s desk that looks a bit tidier than its title suggests. It’s probably the desk of someone who’s already attended such a seminar. In an ordinary office, we learnt, this pencil stand (Stiftbehälter) would be full of bent paperclips, rusty nails and pencils that no longer write. But I can’t see anything really extraneous, although the wall looks promising.

The trainer was Gunter Meier, who has a company website (more E+E – details there of his book on dealing with email too). People who work in offices have more chance to hear about this kind of thing. It’s a shame so few people attended – apparently there were 30 in Aschaffenburg. Probably there’s just too much else to do in Munich.

There was a list of common reasons why it’s hard to throw stuff away, from trivial to neurotic. I found these interesting for reasons I won’t go into. Also: need for archives; analysis of usual use of office space; how to avoid using post-it notes.

There was a reference to the way that old stuff carries old associations and you can only think new thoughts if you get rid of these ‘anchors’: the same old pictures, objects on desk, cuddly toys and so on. I saw these 10 seriously cool workplaces last week, and this reminded me. I particularly liked the slide to go from floor to floor, but I suppose that wouldn’t make me more productive.

6 thoughts on “Tidy desk seminar/”Mein Schreibtisch, frei und aufgeräumt”

  1. Isabella: Good heavens! I possess that, but had forgotten. I recently partly implemented Getting Things Done (emphasis on ‘partly’).

    Paul: Which people do you mean? The ones who make a living from telling other people how to organize themselves? Could you give seminars on how and why not to tidy your desk?

  2. >>The ones who make a living from telling other people how to organize themselves>Could you give seminars on how and why not to tidy your desk

  3. A picture of the desk – that I could publish here? That would be excellent. A picture of the dog in any case.
    The argument of the seminar would be that your old PostIts prevent you from having new ideas, but of course the dog toys are new (I have given a couple of rubber chickens as presents in the past).
    I seem to have omitted the rubbish level on my desk.

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