source: Gerry's News Digest
Gerry’s desk isn’t beautiful, it looks a mess.
1 When working in Zurich, Gerry always wondered how some colleagues could leave their desks __________________ every evening.
2 In the system called hot desking, workers sits at a desk that happens __________________ .
3 Gerry thinks that you can waste a lot of time sorting and __________________ when you could be doing some work instead.
4 A confirmation bias refers to news and reports that reflect what __________________ .
5 Benjamin Franklin lived a life of __________________, but he tried and failed to be tidy.
6 When Franklin wrote about “let all my things have their places” he was looking, in other words, for a __________________ .
7 The principle Tim Harford describes is called LRU, which means __________________ .
Photo: Gerry's desk on Gerry's news digest
Do you have a desk or work table at home or at work? What does it look like? I’ve put a picture of my desk on the website. I have a beautiful desk with a beautiful view of the sea and the mountains, but what’s on my desk isn’t very beautiful. It looks a mess– and it usually looks that way. When I worked in Zurich my desk there looked more or less the same as my home desk today, as my colleagues could tell you. I always wondered at those colleagues of mine who used to leave their desks every evening completely clear. I never understood how they did it.
In some modern offices you have to work with a system called hot desking where you don’t have your own desk. You just come in and sit at a desk that happens to be free. I can’t imagine how somebody like me would cope with that. My untidiness sometimes makes me feel rather inadequate, but I also think that you can waste a lot of time sorting and organising and tidying when you could actually be getting on with real work.
And I was pleased to read something the other day that sort of justified the messy way that I work. It was an extract from a new book by Tim Harford, the economist and journalist. I liked what I read, but there is something called confirmation bias. We all pay special attention to news and reports that reflect what we already think.
Anyway, one story that Tim Harford tells is that of Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States, a scientist, an inventor, a geographer, America’s first Postmaster General, their ambassador to France and so on. But all through this life of endless achievement, he tried and failed to be tidy. He felt he would be even more successful if he could bring more order into his affairs. In his journal, Franklin wrote that one of his aims should be: “let all my things have their places”. He was looking, in other words, for a perfect filing system. But would it have helped him?
Tim Harford argues that filing systems often don’t work because it’s impossible to categorise everything so that everything belongs in just one obvious category. So instead of trying to sort emails, for example, you might as well just keep them in date order. Delete as much as possible as it comes in, and then regularly delete stuff that you’ve never needed to look at again. The principle is called LRU – Least Recently Used.
1 completely clear
2 to be free
3 organising and tidying
4 we already think
5 endless achievement
6 perfect filing system
7 Least Recently Used