My messy classroom, home office, and garage all indicate the same thing to people: I must be careless, cranky, and uncaring. That's according to a study that showed two different work spaces to participants. A messy workspace left people with a negative perception of the unknown worker who occupied the space.
That's kind of sad, since my mess is part of my creativity. Actually, I have to have a mess somewhere in order to function properly. I used to have a junk drawer when I first got married because my wife is pretty much the opposite of a messy person. She allowed me one junk drawer on the main level, and about half of the three basements we had. And most of the garage. And the tool shed. Those were my messy places.
In Florida, we don't have the built-ins with drawers or a basement, so I have to be better at hiding my messes. It's frustrating, to say the least. The whole point of having a mess is that what I need is right there for me when I need it. I don't want to venture into the garage attic to find what I need. I don't want to have to page through file folders for tax documents when they are all stuffed on my desk where I need them. There should be a pen sitting out and within reach from any location in any room.
The most frustrating, however, is the fact that I can't always find my writing notes. I'll take notes while out at a bar or while at church. Observations for later. And those notes need to be out in the open to remind me of what I need to be writing, like Christmas tree ornaments in my office space, or else I won't ever write those ideas. Then they just get stuffed in a box, which is suffocating for ideas.
I also have to wonder if my bosses over the years have assumed something negative about me because my school desk was always messy. I tried to keep it way in the corner, but it was very, very messy. But that was because I was usually working on planning new lessons, revising old lessons, grading papers, writing, thinking, researching, and contacting people. Sometimes, I'd be testing out video production equipment, hooking various electronic devices into my computer to see what they could do, and generally figuring out if I could improve as a teacher. But it looked like I was somehow careless to outsiders.
All in all, I'm lucky to have a wife who forces me to clean once in a while. If we were both like me, the house would be a disaster all the time, and people would be afraid to come over. And they'd probably think that both of us are careless, cranky, and uncaring.
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