Working environments are an interesting thing. Do they say something about your personality? Scan an office and you’ll pick the neat freaks, the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinds, the too-busy-to-deal-with-this-right-now, and the I-love-my-family-more-than-anything (a picture of every child from every angle at every age plastered across their cubicle) employees.

Pre-children, I was an organised, effective and efficient employee. There were no overflowing inboxes, no tsunami of papers strewn across my desk amongst the stained coffee mugs and chocolate wrappers. It was sparse and clean. I’m not sure if that makes me a neat freak?

In contrast, my boss’s desk was a sty. I’m certain unsavoury creatures lived on it. Whenever he went on a business trip, I would get in there and clean the whole place out. I’d set up orderly piles, with in- and outboxes. I’d scrub it within an inch of its life, careful not to misplace anything in the chaos. He was always so pleasantly surprised when he returned (Note: I always asked if he’d like me to have “a little tidy up” while he was absent!). He vowed to keep the desk in that beautiful systematic state. It never lasted beyond two days then old habits resurfaced.

In the end, I accepted he could still produce quality work, and make money for the business, despite his messy desk. Although I felt I should be wearing a military-grade gas mask and riot armour to enter his office, I recognised those desk cleaning duties were wasted and reassigned my time to more fruitful tasks. Like keeping my own desk clean.

So, what does my desk look like now I’m a working parent?

I know what you’re thinking: I’ve turned into a scatterbrained clutter bug. That whole baby brain thing has infected my brain and my working environment. Not quite. Apart from the fact I detest those stereotypes about working parents, a desk is not always a reflection of who you are but rather, where you are in terms of life and career.

Firstly, I now work from home. So my desk is in an office that is part of our home. It is an area I retreat to where I can enter work mode. I also share it with my husband, who borders on a desk like my old boss. The only time I navigate to his side of the room is when he has a bag of Jaffas open.

In my mind, I’m the same worker I was pre-children: organised, effective and efficient. But my desk is not the same. I work around my children’s schedules which means I don’t have time to be fussing about with papers that need to be filed. I have limited hours to sit down and work. So I get to the work and worry about the other stuff later. Most of the time, “later” never arrives.

It’s not ideal and not really a vision of myself I ever imagined before the chaos of family life took over my world. But I’ve decided Albert Einstein had a magnificent point when he famously said: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

What does your desk say about you?

About Kylie Orr, Kylie Orr

Kylie-OrrHer dream of becoming a back up dancer for Janet Jackson was quashed by a distinct lack of talent, forcing Kylie Orr into a day job of writing. She has four children and one husband to fuel her inspiration.

After eight years writing for Essential Baby, Kylie was keen to broaden into genres outside parenting. She found the murky waters and the swell of rejection in this cut-throat freelance writing business overwhelming. But 2015 is her year. She’s determined she will be successful, she will conquer the writing world and make enough money to eat more than 2 minute noodles.