An Ode to Clutter

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Chances are your desk is a swirling way-station for faxes, files, post-it notes, and paper. Messy deskers, there are books to correct that problem: “Stop Clutter from Stealing your Life;” “Lighten Up and Free yourself from Clutter;” “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.”

But before you search for that sort of literary relief, you should also take note that researchers are now saying that it may not be a problem.– that the mess on your desk is not a bad thing. In fact, it may even help get the job done. It may even mark you among your colleagues as the hard-working clever person you always knew you were.

Sure, computers and other digital technologies were supposed to replace the chaos, but they aren’t. And we may never want them to.


Richard Harper, Director of the Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey and author of “The Myth of the Paperless Office”

Geoffrey Nunberg, Senior Researcher at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.