4 Reasons I Thrive With A Messy Desk

Meticulously clean and organized? No, thank you

messy desk

Getty Images / Carol Yepes

You’ve probably seen the ads or the well-meaning articles on organization tips, happiness hacks, and how Marie Kondo-ing your life will undoubtedly make you a more centered, relaxed, and all around less stressed person. Yup, I’ve seen them too… and I’m not going to lie, they’re great. For the people they’re targeting.

But to be honest, forget the color-coded binders, perfectly ordered shelves, and everything-is-in-its-right-place desk vibes. This may be an unpopular opinion, but as a small business owner, homeschool director (with six full-time students), and full-time-work-from-home-while-being-household-manager bonus mama, I thrive with a messy desk.

And I’m not apologizing for that. Here are four reasons my messy desk works for me:

It Brings Me Comfort

There’s something about the comfort of your own mess. And don’t get me wrong, I’m actually somewhat organized when it comes to the rest of the house. I’m continually putting my boys’ shoes on the shoe rack, the cap on the toothpaste (I still don’t know why this is such an impossible task for a twelve-year-old?!), and clothing in the appropriate drawers.

In fact, the majority of my house is immaculate.

I also love cleanliness and order. But when you step into my office, you’ll see the messiness that is my workspace: an assortment of books (for pleasure, for study, and for teaching), pens and markers of literally every color, video and podcast supplies, notebooks galore, all of my son’s IEPs and previous school work, random paint supplies, chargers, snacks (because why not?!), bills and to-do lists, and somewhere in there a few motivational quotes and hand-drawn pictures from my son and students taped to the walls.

From the outside, this desk is a nightmare.

But when I sit down, I’m strangely not overwhelmed. Whereas the rest of the house being in disarray gives me anxiety, my own mess is weirdly comforting. I feel safe here, seen here.

I Know Where Everything Is

There are countless memes about moving someone’s randomly-placed item to where it should be and they’ll never find it. I laugh, because my fiancé actually just tagged me in a Facebook post about this the other day because I moved his drill from the corner of the laundry room (?) to the spot where all of his other tools were. He couldn’t find it for three days.

My father was the same way, continually putting things in random places and getting mad when these things were (intelligently) moved to where they belonged.

But… if I’m being really honest with myself, my desk is sort of like this. It’s that space where everything collects haphazardly and I somehow know where it all is. All the time.

My fiancé tried moving my school supplies all to one pile on the opposite counter, and I swear, I was full on sweating at 5 a.m. on a Monday because the plans I printed and tucked between a large poster of adjectives and a bag of stamps (?) was not where I had left it.

There’s something about our own disorganization that helps us feel… organized?

I’m Inspired by the Process

I’m a big advocate of the idea that the journey is the destination. As much as I love the feeling of actually “getting there” and reaching your proverbial dreams, I’m a chronic to-do-lister. Even if I accomplish the task I set out to reach, chances are, I’ll be writing in a new “next step” before I’ve even had time to celebrate how far I’ve come.

Before you think it, yes, I know this is a *negative trait* and yes, I’m working on it.

But for me, there’s something about my messy desk that actually inspires me and the person I am. Being driven by the process, I love seeing the mess because it’s a continual reminder that I’m always in process, I’m always moving and growing. It’s also a continual reminder of the excitement around what’s next, whether it be business, school, or personal-wise.

The unfinished projects, the papers I still have to grade, the binders I still need to organize—yes, of course, those stress me out from time to time—but actually seeing them every time I sit down to work is a weird sense of motivation.

I know where I need to go and I’m getting there. Slowly but surely.

I’m Continually Reminded of All I Have

Sitting down at my incredibly unorganized desk is a reminder of not just my to-do list and the excitement around it. It’s also an active reminder of all that I have and have been blessed with.

Yes, there are papers, books, and paints strewn across the entire surface, but these items are a reflection of the different passions and projects I get to pursue every day. The paints tucked in the far-right corner are for my son’s gift to his grandmother that we’re creating together. The books are the inspiration for the novel I’m working on. The curriculum is for the second semester plans I get to dive into—a job that fell into my lap recenlty and has since become my lifeline.

These disorderly items are reminders that I am not only lucky enough to work a job that I love and run a full-time business from my home, but that I also have the blessing of teaching six tiny humans every single day, while being a full-time mother figure to a child I get to call mine.

This mess is chaotic, but it also defines the woman I am—a woman I’m proud of.

Sure, there’s value to keeping your space orderly, to decluttering your life and your mind by starting with the place you are the most: your desk. And yes, I see the value in organization because I live it out in my daily life literally everywhere else. But my desk, in all its mess and glory, is my safe haven. My desk is where I feel the most like me. And no, I won’t clean it. At least not yet.