Friday, December 29, 2006

Say 'yes' to the mess

Cognitive ergonomics suggest a messy desk more productive ...

"It is a truism of American life that we're too darn messy, or we think we are, and we feel really badly about it. Our desks and dining room tables are awash with paper; our closets are bursting with clothes and sports equipment and old files; our laundry areas boil; our basements and garages seethe. And so do our partners — or our parents, if we happen to be teenagers.

This is why sales of home-organizing products, like accordion files and labelmakers and plastic tubs, keep going up and up, from $5.9 billion last year to a projected $7.6 billion by 2009, as do the revenues of companies that make closet organizing systems, an industry that is pulling in $3 billion a year, according to Closets magazine.

... The most valuable dividend of living with mess may be time. Freedman, who has three children and a hard-working spouse, Laurie Tobey-Freedman, a preschool special-needs coordinator, is studying Mandarin in his precious spare moments. Perusing a four-door stainless steel shoe cabinet ($149) at the Container Store, and imagining gussying up a shoe collection, he shook his head and said, "I don't get the appeal of this, which may be a huge defect on my part in terms of higher forms of entertainment."

In the semiotics of mess, desks may be the richest texts. Messy-desk research borrows from cognitive ergonomics, a field of study dealing with how a work environment supports productivity. Consider that desks, our work landscapes, are stand-ins for our brains, and so the piles we array on them are "cognitive artifacts," or data cues, of our thoughts as we work.

To a professional organizer brandishing colored files and stackable trays, cluttered horizontal surfaces are a horror; to cognitive psychologists like Jay Brand, who works in the Ideation Group of Haworth Inc., the huge office furniture company, their peaks and valleys glow with intellectual intent and showcase a mind whirring away: sorting, linking, producing. (By extension, a clean desk can be seen as a dormant area, an indication that no thought or work is being undertaken.)"    (Continued via Rutland Herald)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You stole half this article from the NY TIMES.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Usernomics said...

This article was published in the NY Times "By PENELOPE GREEN The New York Times" and reprinted in the Rutland Herald.

If you click on the original article you will see the NY Times attribution.

What you see here is a brief description of the article with attribution to the Rutland Herald.

7:56 PM  

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