Messy headspace

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Priya Tuli

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If it’s true what they say, that a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, I’m in up to my neck. But perhaps I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I shall now attempt to describe what I see from my vantage point here, seated at said desk. In front of me, my dearly beloved laptop; used, abused and fast running out of RAM. To the left of me, tottery piles of papers, post-its, half-read books, post-its, name cards that I want to recycle, magazines that I want to rip up and turn into collages, a clutch of gel pens awaiting refills, post-its, a bowl of tamarind seeds that I like for their glossy brown-ness, an overflowing ashtray, a telephone, a litre-bottle of water, post-its, 12 expired lighters and a pack of cigarettes. And that’s still just the left side of the desk.

I’m too exhausted after that inventory to even look at the right side of the desk. Which is actually the wrong side, because there's nothing right with it. And yes, I use a lot of post-its. On one of them, I’d written a brilliant quote from somebody that said something remarkable about the correlation between a messy desk and a creative mind, but I can’t find the post-it. Wait, I’ll google it. A couple of keyword searches later, and I’ve found a bunch of quotes to replace the one I lost. Naturally, some of them cancel each other out:

'A cluttered desk is a sign of genius'
‘Messy desk = ordered mind
'A messy desk is only a sign of a messy desk.'

And then my favourite, attributed to Einstein:
‘If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?’

To which I say, I have a plan. Have you ever felt like cracking open your head and leaving your brains out to air for a day or two?  Well, exactly. So first, I’m going to sweep everything off both sides of my desk and let it all land on the floor. And then I’m going to air my head. That way, no clutter, no mess; clear desk, clear mind. Let’s see how long it lasts...