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In Praise of Clean Desktops May 6, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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desktop   A couple of decades ago, during an interview for a position of Special Education chair, I encountered a principal who was so organized that he developed a reputation for clarity and neatness in expression and action. During my brief interview in his office, I noticed his desktop was remarkably free of paper and the other examples of detritus that we pick up during the course of a day’s work.

At the time, I worried that he was too neatly organized. Such neatness suggested aloofness and distance from the daily hurly burly of life in a bustling high school. This sort of clutter free environment extends now, for me, the computer desktops. I have fewer than six icons and folders on my home desktop with the occasional work document parked there to remind me of work left uncompleted.

I have also witnessed some of the most cluttered desktops I have ever seen and now I think that a cluttered desktop may reflect a cluttered mind. One of our professors has pasted perhaps forty or fifty icons on an already cluttered desktop. It has the most complicated desktop image of a wildly overgrown cactus garden. If you wanted to find something, you would have to first discern where the icon ends and the desktop begins.

I am not sure if there is a correlation between a cluttered desktop, either computer or physical workspace, and a busy life but some sort of correlation link seems to exist. On the other hand, perhaps it is like the barber with the shaggy hair. The person who does the most work has the least time to play around with making his environment neat.

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