Monday, November 24, 2008

what a mess

OK, I am completely aware that I am the exact wrong person to criticize anyone about home-office cleaning, clutter or organization, but...a complete day spent cleaning and organizing, in only one room, is not really ok. It is obsessive-compulsive.  

I have three offices (let's not talk about my neurosis and other obvious issues or we'll be here all day) and even if I had dog urine covering every square inch I'm pretty sure I couldn't spend more than three hours cleaning them. My sister does the same thing; she spends 12 hours cleaning, which is akin to a vacation for her, then spends another 12 hours congratulating herself for having done something "productive." NOT EVEN CLOSE

Feeling good about getting stuff organized is one thing, but not feeling a little ashamed (instead of triumphant) that it got that way in the first place is kinda weird. Don't you think that it is more a display of tendency toward giving yourself messes to clean up because the accomplishment of cleaning them is a tangible manifestation of the work you got done at home that day.  

I used to work for a huge company and I was the very first "remote" worker. In fact, I wrote the business case for a new product bundle called "work-at-home solutions." Since then I have learned some things about people who spend most of their time working at home. One of the most common things that we do while we are supposed to be working is household chores/home improvement activities. This is because most of us who sit in front of a computer screen or talk on the phone for a living don't produce something that we can reach out and touch, see or hold. We, therefore, compensate by trying to complete tasks with tangible results.

The other thing that we do is that we print stuff out and create piles of paper, files full of folders and shelves full of stuff. Thus the clutter. I am not judging, because even though I realize that this is, subconsciously, the reason why my office is usually messy, I rationalize these bad habit by saying "its just easier to read stuff off paper," or "if I print it out then I can make notes during that meeting..."  

The moral of the story is that the mess (with the possible exception of the dog pee) didn't get there by accident. It's there because you need it to be.

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Darren Cox

Darren Cox
Founder and Chief Evangelist - CaSTT - Commerce and Search for Technology Transfer