Seymour’s Desk

Anyone who looks at my desk at work or at home would be correct in thinking that I don’t like to file and organize my papers.   I only do so under duress, or when I want to make a good impression on a new client or house guest. I am proud to say that no matter how messy my desks look, I know where everything is.  I lose things when I tidy up. Husband tries to keep his things filed and organized, and invariably can’t find things when he looks for them.

The other day I  looked at the pile of papers on my home office desk and realized that it resembled the piles of papers I saw on the desk of one of my favorite graduate school professors.  Seymour was a prodigious pack rat, and threw piles of papers on his desk until he couldn’t see over them.  (He was an incredibly short man, so the pile didn’t have to be too high to obscure his vision.)  I was always amazed when I went to his office and asked for a paper I had written for one of his classes the previous semester, and how he knew exactly what layer the paper was at, and that he could retrieve it from the pile without knocking all the other papers over.

Seymour was a wonderful psychologist and a very funny man.  He spoke in a thick Bronx accent and a slight lisp.   Once he got flustered in court and referred to a Canadian judge of Queen’s Bench  as “Your Majesty” when giving expert testimony.   I believe he is still alive, in his late 80’s or 90’s.  I wonder how high the paper pile  on his is desk now?

What is your organizational style?  

17 thoughts on “Seymour’s Desk”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My style is “i hate filing.” My early career job as a file clerk was a disaster.

    I have not been around much lately here–things are very busy and we have had some losses in our world. Lou’s oldest, dearest friend died last Sunday, then a colleague of mine in Rochester died of ovarian cancer Saturday. All while we await a kidney donation for my work colleague’s daughter as she gets sicker. She now has kidney dialysis three times per week. All of this has been so difficult.

    I am fine, just sad and pressed for time. I have a teaching gig this week, too. At least the snow is gone and tulips are up.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It might interest you, Jacque, that Seymour worked for a couple of years with Salvador Minuchin at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My style I guess would be “straight piles”. I have these all over the house, waiting either to be read or decided upon, or to be put in their appropriate place, etc. If they get too messy I straighten them. I know where things are with this exception: I’m learning that if I remove something to a “better” location, I often don’t remember where that is.

    OT: I’m headed out of town later today for a couple of days, to an aunt’s funeral – see you Friday, baboons, if not before.


    1. I have that problem with the “better” locations, too. Every organizational initiative I launch has the paradoxical result of making me lose more stuff.


  3. My style is pretty well organized in my head but not so great at keeping a neat desk. I inherited “post-it note syndrome” from my father, who is the king of sticking post-it notes everywhere to remind himself to do something or to help him remember whatever.

    I do have a lot of files, and keep a lot of stuff that most people would have tossed. I always think, “I just might need that five-year-old receipt someday for some stupid reason.”

    The ultimate compliment is when my wife actually enters my office and sits for a minute. That means the clutter has been reduced to an acceptable level where she won’t go screaming from the room.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can relate. While remodeling the office (on ongoing process) I had stuff piled on the loveseat in there. My wife was really pleased when it got to a point I could take the stuff off itand she could once again sit in there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My style is to have less stuff so it’s easier to deal with. I do things like group like things together and, as much as possible, near where they’re used. Just like nobody I know stores kitchen stuff in their bedroom, but in the kitchen, it’s best to store things near where they’re used. And if they’re not being used, then ask yourself why you have it.

    Like many people here, I dislike filing and struggled with it for years. Unfortunately, it’s necessary to keep some papers (but probably less than some people think) and so I invested in a filing system that tells me which papers are permanent keepers and which ones need to be replaced periodically (for instance when the new car insurance papers come, throw out the old ones). I still get behind on paper filing, but with this system, I can deal with a lot of paper quickly – plus I can easily find what I need to find.

    So my organizing style is to use systems that work, have a place for everything, work hard at putting things away, and not have too much stuff. Visual clutter really bothers me – to the point that if there’s a lot of stuff on the kitchen counters, I can’t cook.

    But it often doesn’t work perfectly…don’t think my house is perfectly staged at all times and it’s pinterest-worthy. It’s not.


  5. Habit can be a savior for messy people. Even in a messy house, if you consistently put things in certain places you can cope. But if you move, God help you. I had a place I kept unpaid bills. It was a certain spot in a house that was demolished years ago after I moved to a new apartment. Then I put unpaid bills on a bookshelf that is no longer mine because I moved again and there is no place here for that bookcase. I now put unpaid bills on a little desk that cannot move when I move again in a few weeks. Ralph W Emerson said “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” No, Ralph. Consistency may be all that stands between a messy person and ultimate chaos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Steve, I think you’re right. Having routines and habits helps me so much. My mind is naturally random and chaotic and it drives me crazy to always be looking for things or to have papers everywhere. Too much visual clutter and I start to panic. Routines and habits help my mind to calm down, partly because I don’t have to be thinking about where something is or when to do something.

      Of course, living with other people can throw everything out of whack.

      I hope your next move isn’t too traumatic and that you find a place for your unpaid bills (and everything else you need).


  6. At work I stay on top of the my filing and I sort of track the expenses for the whole department (because no one else does) so I’m good there. And files for everything.
    At home reciepts get stuffed in a basket. Or Kelly puts them in envelopes. And at some point in time I’ll enter them in a computer.
    Filing is tough; so many things are available online that why should I save the phone bill? Just look it up if I need it for taxes in a couple years. Farm bills are all saved.
    But the invoice from buying a piece of machinery goes in a different folder than a barrel of oil because the machinery one I’ll want for reference long term while the barrel of oil is just an expense.


  7. Well I think I’m the opposite of just about everybody here. I get antsy if stuff is not organized enough for me. My desk is for the most part clean; if I get a pile of more than about 10 pieces of paper, I usually have to stop before I go home and do something with them. If I get too many emails in my inbox that aren’t dealt with, that really stresses me out. When I see desks with piles, even though I know it works for those people, it would drive me crazy.

    A funny story about how I like to organize. As you all know, we had a fire here at my work place after Thanksgiving. So in the first week or so we were ordering supplies like crazy, to get ourselves set up in our temporary space. I ordered 10 stacker trays and the person in charge of supplies (in another department) came to my boss and said “that’s a typo right, she just wants one?” My boss, who knows me well said “Oh no — she needs 10.” So while everybody else got one or two, I got my ten. Pig in mud.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My system is the same as yours, Renee, but I can’t say I can find a paper immediately…too many piles. Ironically, coincidentally, I was listening to a podcast of NPR’s “The Hidden Brain’ this morning and it was about just this very thing,


    You 2.0: Why Disorder May Be Good For Us
    August 7, 2017 • To many of us, the desire to bring order to chaos can be irresistible. But writer Tim Harford thinks many of us could use a bit more messiness in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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