Work Life

Clean Off Your Desk!



My Workspace

True story, there’s a woman who has a toaster and a microwave under her desk. When I ask her why she doesn’t just use the one in the kitchen in the company break room, she tells me that she doesn’t want to be responsible for cleaning them if she uses them. There’s another woman down the hall who has at least 30 plants in her workspace. The leaves spill out over her desktop and into the adjoining cubicles and no one says anything! So just for fun I walked up and down the aisles to get a better look at the cubicles of my Sistah Friends. Here’s what I found in no particular order:

Stuffed Sistah: Stuffed animals, stuffed beanie babies, stuffed anything. The entire cubicle is one big advertisement for Nick Junior.

Candy Land Sistah: There’s an M & M dispenser and a bowl of Kit Kats along with glass jars filled with jolly ranchers, Swedish fish and sugar babies.

OO7 Sistah: She’s got passwords on the phone, her desktop and on the combination locks on her desk drawers. She’s also got a privacy screen made of the darkest material known to Best Buy.

BET Awards Sistah: Every concert ticket, poster and t-shirt for Trey Songs, Chris Breezy and Usher can be found in this workspace. She’s used push pins to create a heart around a photo of Justin Timberlake.

While researching for this post I discovered that supervisors and those in the business of handing out employee evaluations often scan the desk of a worker-bee and make several decisions regarding whether or not the employee is worthy of advancement. A messy desk signals to others that you are not only un-organized but likely incapable of taking on another project which would lead to another file or document on your desk.


Years ago, I stopped decorating my workspace and I have to say I was heavily influenced to do so by Robert DeNiro. The light bulb went off for me in that famous scene from the movie “Heat” in which he says, “A guy told me one time, ‘Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.’”

A little dramatic for some but that’s some real advice for a Sistah Girl. You can’t have 6 pairs of shoes under your desk and a drawer full of hair products and a flat iron and expect to roll out when the “Heat” is around the corner. The flames could come from a corporate merger, a change in leadership or yes…because you are getting the pink slip. Whatever the reason, you gotta be ready to roll. I say chose five items to personalize your workspace and keep it moving.

A photo of someone/something you love (Kids, Dogs, Horses—nothing stuffed please). Some people like to know that you are personally connected. It makes them feel better.

A keepsake from a company event
No better way to look like a team player than displaying the company logo.

A calendar
No real reason. It just seems like every cubicle has one.

A photo from your favorite vacation spot (Not the one with you in a Tankini but the actual location)

A magazine related to your business
There’s nothing like giving people the impression that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of your industry.

Why all of the fuss about cubicle creativity? I guess it’s because I’m constantly thinking about the obvious and subtle moves that we make that help people form impressions of who they think we are. You may think it’s nothing but you never know. You could be one beanie baby, one M & M, flip-flop, toaster oven away from a promotion.


5 thoughts on “Clean Off Your Desk!

  1. LOL at some of the things people have at their desk. I just surveyed my desk to see if I fall into any of these categories, and I do have a lil shoe store in my desk SMH. However, if I had to leave in 30 seconds flat, I could and would be able to grab some shoes. Thank You for this valuable info…”I SMILE”!!

  2. Ms. Drye! I am cracking up over here! This post is too funny and TOO TRUE at the same time. We do software and hardware upgrades regularly and I can’t tell you the stuff we find over and under people’s desks! Ain’t nobody over here running out in 30 seconds. LOL And you are right about “impressions”. Since I’m on the installation side I get to here what people really think of the messy desk, the shoes underneath and what’s inside your drawers. Oh, and yeah, when you ain’t around….people open them and look. But the best one for me is the sistah who has an alter beneath her desk made of stone. I wonder if on bad days she goes under there and sacrifices small animals and prays for her boss’ demise.

  3. This is one of those things that make you think. I am in my home office and unfortunately, I have all of the categories covered. Time to purge;)

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