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This happened yesterday with a coworker of mine. She'd always been a slob, but it got worse in the 3.5 years I'd been here. We got a new supervisor/manager in the past five months. They repeatedly talked to her and there were definitely other issues involved, but she would not clean up her desk. Said she didn't have the time. Boss got everyone file carts to help us organize, which I liked a lot since it got files off my desk. They helped my coworker organize and clean up, all to no avail. As soon as it was cleaned up, it was a mess again. Files strewn all over her desk, on the floor, everywhere. She had emails in the system going back to 2007. She refused to delete them.<br><br>
I had to cover certain of the customers she dealt with when she was out. We could never find needed files. I always said we should burn down her cubicle and start over. She was out the past two weeks and it was utterly horrid.<br><br>
I feel kinda sorry for her since she was in her mid-60s and apparently resistent to change, but she was given multiple chances and lots of help to clean up and she immediately trashed her cube again. From what she said, her house was a mess, too.<br><br>
Not only is it very unprofessional looking, but if others have to cover your desk when you're off and they can't find stuff, well, then all bets are off.<br><br>
My desk is held up as an example by the boss to the entire company, as well as by the higher ups. I'm a minimalist at home, too!
 

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Yeah, I'd probably be the type of boss to fire an employee for this reason. Glad I work from home. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">
 

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I feel for her in this economy, but I see the other side. My coworkers and I have to cover if someone is out (usually really time sensitive stuff where you can't spare 15 minutes to look through someone's stuff) and we've spent a lot of time perfecting our systems over the past 3 years. Although, I do get the email thing. I often have to refer to messages as far back as 2000 and it wasn't practical to keep a traditional file system. We had someone set up a database in filemaker that downloads our emails each morning. It's been a life saver. I hope she finds something soon that meshes better with her work style.
 

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I can so understand how frustrating this would be having to work with her. I wonder if she did not have an underlying illness like hoarding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thing is, we're told to ONLY keep 9-12 months of back emails, and less if possible. We've been having major issues with our email server and employees like this are a big part of the problem. IT could have just gone in and done it for her I suppose, but they're always swamped.<br><br>
We have subfolders for each customer in our inbox, so that helps to keep them organized. I keep a fairly empty inbox, the only things remaining in it (not in subfolders) are things I need to keep for reminders.
 

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In "The Undomestic Goddess" by Sophie Kinsella, the main character is fired because of her messy desk. (Well, not exactly, but to tell you exactly would ruin the book. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">) Fun book, but her boss isn't nice enough to give proper organizing tools to everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>sapphire_chan</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15419563"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">In "The Undomestic Goddess" by Sophie Kinsella, the main character is fired because of her messy desk. (Well, not exactly, but to tell you exactly would ruin the book. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">) Fun book, but her boss isn't nice enough to give proper organizing tools to everyone.</div>
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I'll have to check out that book! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"><br><br>
We all have the same tabs on the hanging files in our carts (a few have been tweaked, as some customers have different requirements that determine how some things are filed for follow-up, but mine are all VERY self-explanatory. My boss says my desk is excellent!).
 

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I can totally understand how frustrating that is. Most of my coworkers have stuff just everywhere. When they're gone, it's impossible to find anything. Heck, even when they're here, it takes them awhile to find something.<br><br>
Everyone comments on how clean my desk is, but I just can't handle a messy desk. When I'm busy, I have (organized) piles everywhere and it makes me crazy.
 

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I`m glad that she was given help to perform her job and given the tools that other people were successfully using, and I`m also glad that she was finally let go after failing to improve. Especially after reading the part where on days when she was out, her co-workers couldn`t find things they needed in order to cover for her. IMO the people who are so disorganized are also the same people who are gone from work the most! so it`s a double whammy.<br><br>
When I worked for the provincial govt, I started out as a `float`covering for different workers and some of the messes I had to deal with...almost always from so-called `veteran` experienced staff! Calenders from the previous year still hanging on the wall...in July. Desks covered in knick knacks and personal photo`s, but no working stapler or calculator.<br><br>
The worst was some guy who was a real nasty piece of work when I finally met him in person. I developed a real hate for him in the week I covered his desk, as he failed to leave his voice mail password so his phone calls went unanswered and unreturned all week, and he had client files and forms, confidential stuff that belonged in the file room, locked in his desk, and he didn`t leave the key. All that stuff was supposed to be returned to the file room every day! I reported these lapses in client service and confidentiality to the district supervisor but nothing was done of course.
 

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I feel for her but also think that it's reasonable to require a certain amount of organization from your employees. Even if the woman in question was a master at dealing with her mess (which is unlikely, though certainly possible that she knew where everything was at any moment and could find it as quickly as an organized person), as you have said, others will need to cover for her from time to time and that really pulls down productivity for everyone.<br><br>
I wonder why she refused to delete her emails - just couldn't be bothered or afraid she might delete something she needed? While the likelihood that I'll need an email a year or more old is pretty low, it has happened to me from time to time. I archive my emails using a little application that accesses my email account and prints everything to a PDF file. On a handful of rare occasions, I've actually gone through those files and gotten old information out. I'm too paranoid to just delete these things forever. But that's no excuse to not <i>manage</i> them somehow.
 

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ok... i"l admit it-- I have a messy desk. I'll clean it up after reading this thread though!
 

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From teh other side (and it doesn't sound like it would apply to the coworker in the OP), I had a colleague who was constantly congratulated for her extreme organization, while I was criticized for the state of my desk. I had a workload, with no exaggeration involved, that was <i>at least</i> five times what hers was...and she had an assistant to help with her filing and photocopying. (The issue of someone having to cover for me didn't arise, because 1) there was only one other person - my immediate manager - qualifed to do my job, and her office looked just like my desk, and 2) almost all the work that would require coverage if I missed a day was paper that came in that day in the courier package.)<br><br>
The same manager who was on my case about the desk simply refused to get it through his head that I was doing the work of at least three people. And, honestly...some of us really do better with things out and visible, instead of in filing cabinets. I've been in workplaces where I <i>have</i> to have a clean desk, and it just doens't work for me. My efficiency goes way down.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Storm Bride</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15419897"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">From teh other side (and it doesn't sound like it would apply to the coworker in the OP), I had a colleague who was constantly congratulated for her extreme organization, while I was criticized for the state of my desk. I had a workload, with no exaggeration involved, that was <i>at least</i> five times what hers was...and she had an assistant to help with her filing and photocopying. (The issue of someone having to cover for me didn't arise, because 1) there was only one other person - my immediate manager - qualifed to do my job, and her office looked just like my desk, and 2) almost all the work that would require coverage if I missed a day was paper that came in that day in the courier package.)<br><br>
The same manager who was on my case about the desk simply refused to get it through his head that I was doing the work of at least three people. And, honestly...some of us really do better with things out and visible, instead of in filing cabinets. I've been in workplaces where I <i>have</i> to have a clean desk, and it just doens't work for me. My efficiency goes way down.</div>
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ditto. (although I don't work outside the home anymore) My desk was cluttered because I needed to SEE my files. They were kept in different places and order based upon where they were in their processing and what was more important to be done first. I needed to SEE them. I had too many to shove them in a drawer and hope they got done in time for closing. Although in my last place of employment, they valued the work I did and got me a bigger desk with more room.<br><br>
I worked in a time sensitive (mortgage) industry. If I didn't get your file ready in time, you didn't close in time. If I didn't cut your checks, your stuff didn't get paid off.<br><br>
It worked best for me. I also kept a computer log and a printed daily log of what HAD to get done and what would be nice to get done.
 

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If you need to see your files to keep them in mind, get one of those <a href="http://www.oppictures.com/singleimages/400/RUB86023_1_1.JPG" target="_blank">vertical table top file holders</a> for your current project folders. And label them with BIG letters. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
Obviously, that's more if you've got like 8 folders that you might need to work on at any one time, not when you have stacks and stacks of folders to work through.<br><br>
For the stacks and stacks, it's really really helpful to have an overhead shelf. Then you can put labels for your categories right on the shelf and save your desk space for actually working on the priority stack that is the only one that gets a spot on your desk.<br><br>
Not possible if you're doing the work of 4 people with no assistant, but for a normal work load there's no real excuse for haphazard piling like the OP's coworker.
 

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I'm not sure, since I don't know the person, but it sounds like she is a visual spatial thinker. Folks like that just don't "organize" like other people. It is hard for them (I know I am one of them) and my desk is always messy. But I know where everything is.<br><br>
It sounds like they gave her lots of warnings, etc. But I just wanted to mention that not everyone organizes in a conventional way.<br><br>
I'm like neetling, I need to see it to do it. Otherwise I forget.
 

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I am thinking visual spatial thinker too. All the ones I've known in my life, their organization looks like a mess to the average person but as soon as they "tidy up" they lose things because those things aren't where they should be logically to them.<br><br>
Or as DD puts it "Every time I clean up, I can't find anything!".
 

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See, I think there's a HUGE difference between a slightly cluttered, busy dusk and a MESSY desk. My desk got messy for a while while I had a big non-working-at-my-desk project going on... it was just a storage space while we were working. Drive me nuts, and immediately upon my return to desk work, it got cleaned up.<br><br>
That said... my desk isn't one of those "pretty" desks. I don't have arranged photographs or knick-knacks (I do a lot of paper pile shuffling and they'd just get knocked over) There's always "stuff" on it (water bottles, coffee mugs, "in progress" paperwork, etc.), but it's not messy.<br><br>
I'm always kind of jealous of the "pretty desk" people, but it's just not gonna happen for me. I'll settle for reasonably neat.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>texmati</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15419868"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">ok... i"l admit it-- I have a messy desk. I'll clean it up after reading this thread though!</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>blizzard_babe</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15420399"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">See, I think there's a HUGE difference between a slightly cluttered, busy dusk and a MESSY desk.</div>
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I agree. There's a difference between "I want to be able to see my tasks for today" and "all of the files I used in the last month are piled on the corners of my desk and the floor."<br><br>
I never really thought of myself as a visual person, but at work I do like to keep my work for the day out and accessible. Occasionally I do leave things out for too long, but the mess drives me nuts and I clean it up after having to rifle through all of it for a couple of days.
 

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what may be a mess to you could be an intricate organizational system to someone else. Just saying.
 
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