What is an “Empty Desk”? For the purpose of this website, the definition of an “Empty Desk” is:
The Dynamic Interface Between Clutter And Direction.
Initially the definition was noted as:
The Interface Between Clutter And Direction.
Both are acceptable, but the word Dynamic was introduced because of the drive that an individual naturally has when the clutter in their environment is no longer there.
In physical terms, the “Empty Desk” does not really exist, you are either one side of it or the other. It is just like the tick mark that signifies agreement. You start with the down stroke, which says I/ we have sorted/ got rid of the clutter. You then immediately go into the upstroke to confirm that everything follows the direction in question.
Clutter acts as a block and can have the effect of frustrating or stopping the progress of what you are doing, or what you are trying to do. The result is that you try to go faster, you are under pressure, but the fact is that you become more susceptible to making mistakes and end up going slower.
The words Dynamic and Direction could give the impression that you go off at speed but, with the absence of clutter, you realize that you are already at where you were trying to go. The emphasis, in proper direction, turns out to be communication rather than speed.
There is a school of thought that a certain amount of disorder is necessary to bring about success. The finding here by “Empty Desk” is that it is important to differentiate between “clutter/ disorder” and “full/ empty”. Study, by definition, indicates a degree of untidiness. The same thing in production would be clutter. The question, when looking at a document, is – “Is it part of the structure of what is in communication?” In other words “If it is not an item which is a part of, or helping you with, what you are currently in communication with, why is that document there?” In a group activity, this could be – “why are you there?” i.e. Should you be somewhere else?
Albert Einstein’s desk was not cluttered, it was full. He knew what was going on and that was all that mattered. He had an “Empty Desk” i.e. a desk empty of clutter!