Having been immersed in TPS (Toyota Production System) or lean, I have been very interested in seeing how many lean practitioners talk about 5S and the importance of a clean and organized desk. It is almost as if, the clean and organized desk indicates a clean and organized mind – making you a more productive worker. As with everything else, generalization is not always a good thing.
The goal of 5S (or Go-Esu as our Japanese counterparts say) is not to clean and have a tidy work place. The goal of 5S is to ensure that any waste becomes immediately visible. I have delved philosophically about how this applies to an office environment, where the work does not always have routine, efficient and predictable attributes.
My own personal experience has been that having a less than tidy desk never hindered my productivity. Sometimes, the opposite was true. My desk may have piles, but the most important projects/documents are always on the top and close to me. Proximity and the order indicate the importance and timeliness requirement of the project.
My goal has been to have an organized mind first, and then an organized desk. It looks like there has been some research done about the cluttered desks, and this is not truly new news. The goal of this post is not to promote cluttered desks. The goal of this post is to promote organized minds through mindfulness.
Einstein is supposed to have asked, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” The cued answer is a tongue-in-cheek “Empty mind.”
A study conducted in 2013 by Kathleen D. Vohs, a behavioral scientist at the University of Minnesota, indicated that a cluttered desk might actually lead to outside the box thinking by allowing one to veer from the conventionally treaded paths. http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/9/1860
It is true that many great minds have been found to have messy desks.
But as I stated earlier, the goal of this post is not to promote a cluttered desk. 🙂
I have been trying to have a better organized mind through mindfulness practice. The goal of mindfulness practice is to be aware and to be present at the given moment. Surprisingly this has huge benefits in the hustled world that we live in. Check out this link. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_benefits_to_mindfulness_at_work
Mindfulness helps in improving our emotional intelligence, and helps us being focused on the task at hand. It provides clarity to our minds.
So let us try to organize our minds, getting rid of clutter leading to clarity and focus. And then, have an organized desk. Maybe, a cluttered desk is not that bad after all.
Keep on learning…