Home Office Counterpoint - A Functional Mess

While I love the beautiful, well organized and neat offices I see here I have never managed to have one of those. So just to show you something else here is my desk.

It’s an L shaped desk and this is only one section of it. Going from right to left out of the view is my silhouette die cutter machine and a bunch of scrapbook pens and other related scrapbook stuff. Then the chromebook that’s getting set up for LambTracker testing. Orange kindle fire that has the old LambTracker database and code as my oh shit backup. Black kindle fire resting on the EID tag reader that is the new LT code and database. Behind is a rubbermaid container with the old iPhone, and external hard drives. Old kindle behind that. Then my Mac Air with the android development system for LambTracker, external display attached to Mac Air so I have more screen space for debugging, post it notes are issues/bugs etc that I am currently working on, behind the screen some slides that are in the process of being cleaned to get ready for scanning (I do that when I need a break from coding) white container with some drawers and my paper books in work on top, 3 stacking inboxes, top one is my husband’s, middle overstuffed one is mine, normally empty but I haven’t processed paper stuff for 2 days. Bottom is where I store note paper, iPad that I’m using as a book for reading some manuals and looking up stuff as I debug. The file folder with stuff in it is magazines that my husband has read and are now passed back to me. Out of the frame is my main iMac, the brother scanner, the epson scanner and another cabinet with office supplies on the other leg of the desk. To the left and out of frame are file cabinets and shelves with scrapbook stuff and also the place I store my purse and current knitting project. Behind my chair is a 3 panel white board and hanging on the stair railing is another whiteboard with all the other LambTracker post-it kanban notes.

Lest you think this is a cluttered desk here is one shot of part of my husband’s desk. We have mirrored L shaped desks. Most of what’s he’s working on are the boards he’s building in his adjacent electronics shop.


I don’t know how anybody gets anything done in those picture perfect, no cords showing, desktops.


They say that a “Clean desk is a sign of a sick mind” I think you are in a great shape :wink:


Messes drive me nuts. However, it is often how I end up operating.

That’s the way I worked for years, and can still be functional in that environment.
But I’ve learned over time that every item on my desk has a very small cognitive load associated with it. For instance, the four batteries — good or bad? Each time I see them, I would potentially recall that information. Bad? Toss. Good? Battery box.
You can think of it in GTD terms — move items off your desk (and mind) and into trusted systems — storage totes, boxes, what have you.
Then there is the concept of contexts — you have several different mental contexts in which you work. If you have physical items from many different contexts in your view at once, it can lead to what I would call context confusion. Whereas, if you are working on, say, lamb tracker software, you would have the Kindles and other physical items associated with that context.

Or not, everyone has their own challenges and strategies. :slightly_smiling_face:


On my desk nearly everything on it is related to the specific project I am working on or is my inbox. My husband’s works for him but I couldn’t manage it.

One issue is that unlike other folks, our desks are actually countertops permanently installed in the house so no real space to run wires underneath or in back etc. That’s why all the device charging stuff is on top. There is no other place to put them.


Have you considered grommets?


Considering the vast range of projects you’ve described having, @OogieM, that’s exactly the kind of workspace I would have envisioned.

Clutter-free desks make me jittery – I remember things by their location in space. Which quadrant, which stack, how high up.

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Got a few in corners but not really keen on cutting more holes in the desk surface. Original plan was to have all cables etc on the side that is not in view, we built in a cable race there but turns out that it doesn’t work well for me to see the screens as easily due to the windows. I had originally planned to have my main computer in the corner and everything else that needed cabling to my right. But that just didn’t work out for me. Having the inboxes where both of us can reach them easily proved more important.

Me too much of the time.

I personally find messy workspaces distracting, so everything is put away in its proper place. There is an inbox, a pad and a computer setup on my desk. I keep it minimal at work and home. At work, we have regular visitors from within the college and from the outside community. I require everyone to have neat work areas, though I don’t micromanage that. We need to demonstrate that we’re orderly, professional and organized.

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It’s not messy to me if I’m actively using everything there. Messy to me is when stuff that’s “done” creeps up in piles and not put away and also stuff that’s not yet be processed into reference, active projects or into the trash. So right now the large number of computers and devices are all in active work with LambTracker or else that is their storage location. Now what might make sense is to try to find a better place to put the sitting there charged up but not in use electronic devices like the tablets and kindles not part of LambTracker.

I think it boils down to personal tastes, work styles and work environment. I have also seen the extreme with a cold, corporate office where everything was impersonal and designed by interior decorators. People weren’t even allowed to have family photos on their desks. They had high turnover that I think was related to this strictness in some ways. I like neat, but I have a Fracture wall with photos I have taken on walks with my dog. (attached).


Greetings to your husband! Not only does my work area resemble both of yalls, but it looks like he’s a HAM? Me too!

Happy Day!


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Looks like you both have been working a lot. Although messy, it’s clean. I love it.

Yes, he is WA2VFN I’m KF6WNT


WOW, that would really mess with my head space. However, whatever works for one may not work for another. I personally prefer a clean minimalist console, I like an aesthetically pleasing landscape.

Thought I’d do an update as I’ve moved things around a bit since my last picture. This is AnimalTrakker development in progress.

Designing screens on paper first


I am KE0LXT. Not sure how I missed this three years ago.