Every office has at least one slob -- the employee whose desk looks like a tornado has struck. Papers are stacked precariously. Post It Notes from months and months ago are still tacked to the cubicle wall. The garbage overflows with takeout coffee cups and empty bags. But a business book suggests that neat people are actually less efficient and less creative, or at least so says the book's author, David Freedman.
A mess, it turns out, works surprisingly well for the person who made it, he explains. It becomes a filing system of sorts. Take Karen Jackson, who readily admits that her desk looks like a disaster area. Yet it's an organized mess, she says, because she knows where everything is. Clean it up, or otherwise disturb the mess, and the method behind the madness goes out the window.
What may come as the biggest shock, though, is how a messy workspace can serve as a natural reminder system. Old papers and notes stacked with more recent information will get picked through. As a result, connections between the old and the new become possible, which translates into increased creativity and opportunity. Filed away papers, on the other hand, usually end up forgotten, and anything thrown away is lost forever. As for efficiency, tidy employees usually spend from one to four hours per day keeping their desk clean, time more productively spent attending to the tasks at hand.
But Barry Izsak, who heads the National Association of Professional Organizers, disputes the author's claims. Izsak explains that the average person, because of the mess, will often feel increased stress. There will be accompanying feelings of missed deadlines and lost opportunities. And according to another study, that inability to quickly retrieve information can cost companies money -- $50 per week for each employee. At large organizations, that can quickly run into millions of dollars.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Title: Speculate and/or discuss the contents of today's article from its title: "Messiness More Efficient."
Fill in the Blanks: Fill in the blank with the correct word.
- Every office has at least one ( ).
- Papers are stacked ( ).
- Post It Notes from months and months ago are still ( ) to the cubicle wall.
- The garbage ( ) with takeout coffee cups and empty bags.
- A mess, it turns out, becomes a filing system of ( ).
- Karen Jackson ( ) admits that her desk looks like a disaster area.
- Clean it up, or otherwise ( ) the mess, and the method behind the madness goes out the window.
- Tidy employees usually spend from one to four hours per day keeping their desk clean, time more productively spent ( ) to the tasks at hand.
- There will be ( ) feelings of missed deadlines and lost opportunities.
- According to a recent study, that inability to quickly ( ) information can cost companies money.
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- What was your general impression after reading this article?
- Do you think that messy people are more or less efficient than neat people? Why?
- How much time do you spend a day (or a week) cleaning your workspace? Is this too much or too little? Why?
- Are there any very neat people in your office? If yes, does their neatness bother you? Why/not?
- Are there any negative connotations to being neat? If yes, what?
Google Search: Type "efficient" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.