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Messiness More Efficient

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Every office has at least one person who always has a messy desk. Papers are stacked here and there. Old Post It Notes are still on the cubicle wall. The garbage is filled with takeout coffee cups and empty bags. But a business book suggests that these messy people are more efficient and creative than neat people.

The book's author, David Freeman, explains that a mess is like a filing system. For example, one employee admitted her desk looks like a disaster. Yet it's an organized mess because she knows where everything is. If someone cleaned up the mess, then she wouldn't be able to find anything.

A messy workspace can be a natural reminder system. The person who made the mess will review old papers and notes with new information. As a result, he can more easily make connections between new and old information. On the other hand, when papers are filed away, they quickly get forgotten. And anything which is thrown away is lost forever. Lastly, tidy employees usually spend from one to four hours per day keeping their desks clean.

But Barry Izsak, who is the head of the National Association of Professional Organizers, disagrees with the idea that messiness is more efficient. Izsak explains that the average person will often feel stress because of the mess. He will also have feelings of missed deadlines and lost opportunities.

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.

  1. Papers are (                          ) here and there.
  2. Messy people are more (                          ) and creative than neat people.
  3. A messy workspace can be a natural (                          ) system.
  4. The person will (                          ) old papers and notes with new information.
  5. (                          ) employees spend one to four hours keeping their desk clean.
  6. He will also have feelings of missed (                          ) and lost opportunities.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Did you like this article? Why/not?
  2. Do you think that messy people are more or less efficient than neat people? Why?
  3. Do you think that messy people are more or less creative than neat people? Why?
  4. How much time do you spend a day or week cleaning your workspace?
  5. Are there any messy people in your office? If yes, does their messiness bother you?

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.

Download the lesson:

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