The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


February Column: Aria’s Approach

By Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani

Messy Desks Deserve Love Too

“A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.” My mom’s words, taken from an old adage, rang in my mind as I glanced at my own desk. There wasn’t an empty square inch in sight: from piled textbooks to calculators to water bottles, my desk is almost always fully covered. After years of grappling with what the state of my desk should be, I’ve found peace in its messiness and accepted that it’s simply what works best for me. 

We’ve all grown up with the sentiment that messy equals dirty. This, combined with the words of adults around me who cited studies that supposedly showed that messy desks meant lesser productivity, motivated me to at least try to keep the surface of my desk empty and clean. However, all my attempts turned out to be short-lived: I’d make it a few days, but then, before I knew it, I had reverted back to my old ways, and stacks of books and paper clips littered my desk again. To me, it was just easier to have everything within arms (or fingers) reach, and I valued having all of my work in my sight to motivate myself. However, over time, I grew frustrated with the notion that messy desks were “wrong” and also with myself. Why couldn’t I just keep my desk clean? Was something wrong with me? I refused to accept that my desk was indicative of my mind or my productivity.

So, I turned to Google, and a quick web search left me confused. While I had been fed quotes and statistics that supported cleaner desks, simply looking up “are messy desks okay” led me to evidence that asserted that messy desks were the superior choice. I felt torn — I just wanted to know what the correct environment was. 

Turns out there is no right or wrong. This realization settled on me as I once again tried to maintain a “clean” desk as a second semester senior resolution to be more organized. After three days, I decided that trying to uphold the ideal of a clean desk wasn’t worth the consequences that came with it: I could no longer easily navigate my papers and have all my supplies in the palm of my hand quickly. A messy desk is what works for me, and internalizing that lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. 

Seemingly mundane life choices often do not have right or wrongs. That doesn’t mean we should always ignore science (yes, green foods are still healthier than donuts, unfortunately), but we must accept that everyone has different routines and actions that work better for them. No one way is fundamentally better than another. Don’t let anybody else tell you that your way is wrong: what matters is what makes you happy and what works the best for you. 

Cover image by Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani

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