Founder Diary

June 6, 2023

Gotta love your messy desk

Gotta love your messy desk

Plus what gloves have to do with productivity.

The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
Nikita Kazhin's headshot

Nikita Kazhin

Co-founder at Brick

X (formerly Twitter) logo

Hey friend 👋,

Here are 3 more bricks to help you build your time independence:

  • 1 down-to-earth study breakdown

  • 1 quick tip

  • 1 link

This one is a 4-minute read unless you want to savor it.

Let’s get to it. 

1 study. Workspaces: “order” vs “chaos”

There are three key approaches to workspace organization:

  • Lean. It involves removing everything that isn’t directly used in the work process. Management decides what goes and what doesn’t.

  • “Enhanced”. A.k.a. “let’s add some plants or motivational art to boost morale and workplace satisfaction”. Not as dull as the lean approach, but still manager-driven.

  • “Hands off”. A.k.a. “F it, let the employees decide what they want on their desks”. A.k.a. the messy way.

Which do you think works best for productivity?

When I first read about this choice, I went all-in on the enhanced approach: it’s cooler than lean but not as chaotic as the “Hands off”. Esthetically alive, but not distracting etc etc.

If you’re with me on this one, congratulations!

You lost.

This study concludes that the “Hands off” approach is hands-down (ha-ha) the best there is. Here’s why:

  • When given the option, an overwhelming majority of workers customize their workspaces.

  • Tight manager control over workspaces means lower morale and less cooperative employees.

  • Having a say in your workspace leads to feelings of greater autonomy and involvement.

  • As a result of all of the above, folks who enrich their desks report better wellbeing, physical AND psychological comfort, and job satisfaction. In this environment, even your perception of your working conditions improves.

  • Finally, your productivity shoots up when you can customize your own desk.

Neat? Yes.

Unexpected? Also kinda yes.

To me, that means a few things.

First, if you get the freedom to customize away, here’s one more thing to be grateful for (journal this now 😉)

Second, what is it if not another reason to go independent and go nuts with your desk. You only live once, right? BUT

Third, if you’re happily employed, you know know your messy desk is a great feature, not a bug. OR, if you don’t get the option to make your workspace truly yours, now you have a reason to push for change in your organization. With science behind your back.

1 tip: The gloves in the sink story

A few weeks ago I took a fun family walk at a park/forest.

That involved me throwing some logs and moving a small fallen tree to make my 3-year-old laugh (and be amazed at daddy’s superpowers, of course). But my musculature isn’t the point.

It was still chilly that day and I was wearing light gloves. No surprise they ended up more than a little dirty and got tree sap on them.

Back home, I made a half-hearted attempt to clean them. But, if you’ve ever dealt with sap, you know it’s not so easily removed. So, I gave up quickly and made a mental note that I needed to read about cleaning sap-contaminated clothes.

And left the gloves at the edge of my sink. You know, they’re still there, but also kinda out of the way.

As of this writing, they’ve stayed in that sink for nearly 2 weeks.

Does that remind you of anything?

I have whole projects that are like gloves in the sink: I made a half-heared attempt to “do” them, but as soon as I encountered resistance, I abandoned them (Steven Pressfield would disapprove).

Moral of the story?

Please feel free to draw your own conclusions, but my version is this:

What we don’t do right away, OR write down AND create a clear crystal clear plan for, doesn’t get done. At best, it gets kicked down the road (my to-do list is littered with these things). Plus, mental notes are open loops. And open loops take a lot of bandwidth.

Now every time I put a project on the back-burner with no plan, I remember those gloves in the sink. Btw, just chucking it, or, in my case, bidding farewell to those old gloves is totally fine, too.

Just don’t leave it all rotting in your own version of the sink.

1 link. A (literally) fun approach to chores, even with ADHD: make them fun.

The ADHD Productivity Hack That Works for Everybody

Thanks for reading, and let’s get building.

Be the first to know what's new at Brick: