There was a feature on the BBC website some months back which showed a series of photographs of authors at their desks. These were the desks at which bestselling novels and works of non-fiction had been written - and they could not have been more diverse.
Perhaps the most telling thing about them was that some were incredibly, deeply messy while others were so tidy they could only have been polished a few seconds before the photograph was taken. Of course we have no way of knowing whether those incredibly tidy desks always look like that, but assuming they do, it begs a question of what a working desk should look like.
In answer to that, there is no right or wrong way for a desk to look. Some people will say that a messy desk equals a messy mind, or words to that effect. Some claim they cannot work unless their desk is tidy. But for other people the opposite is true. As soon as they are hounded into tidying their work space for the benefit of others, they cannot find a thing and their whole way of working is thrown into disarray.
There are plenty of websites that declare that messy desks are definitely counterproductive. But while this is essentially true for a lot of people, some people can work quite happily amidst a pile of paper that threatens to topple to the floor. It all depends on the individual.
So how does your desk shape up? Do you constantly tidy it or are you happy with it looking untidy? The answer really does not matter, provided you are able to work happily in that position.
You may find that how you work depends on the amount of space you have available. Some people find that if they work at a small desk they will be more likely to be untidy. But if they have space to neatly file everything away and put everything in its place, it is a very different story indeed.
In other situations there are people who will constantly generate paper and many other items to fill the amount of space they find themselves with. No matter how much they may strive to keep things tidy, it never quite works for them.
Take a fresh look at your desk today and ask yourself how happy you are with it. Don't think about what others in your workplace may think. Remember that this is your working space and it needs to be right for you. If this means it is messy then so be it. You need to make it clear that your desk is the one space you are totally responsible for at all times. If that means anything landing on it has the chance of disappearing into the ether forever then that is the way it is.
On the other hand, if you look at it and feel guilty and overwhelmed, perhaps now is the time to start tidying, don't you think?