Read Proverbs 14
Focus on verse 4
I have spent years feeling guilty about my inability to keep a neat and tidy desk at work. My workbench in my garage too often displays a similar lack of tidiness. I have often envied acquaintances who somehow managed to keep their office looking like they just moved in. For several years I had a neighbor who’s garage floor was cleaner most days than my kitchen floor has ever been. I am glad to report that I no longer have to deal with that guilt and envy, and its not because we moved away from that neighbor or that office is currently stored in cardboard boxes in the spare bedroom. Rather, it is because I have come to understand what Solomon was suggesting in Proverbs 14:4. “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” This is an agrarian picture that suggests that while a clean manger may look nice and be easy to keep, if there is no ox – there is no harvest. In other words a desk that is always clean may suggest that there is little or no productivity coming from that desk, while a desk that is busy might get a little cluttered and messy.
I would qualify this with a word of caution lest anyone attempt to take this to an extreme. I believe there is a law of diminishing returns that would govern this principle. While a busy office that is highly productive tends to be difficult to keep looking clean at all times, it does not mean that there is a lack of order. In most offices one keeps a filing system. In my office it often appears to be more of a piling system, but it is a system and for me it works. In this digital age of efficiency (if one can call it that) more and more data is filed electronically so there is much less actual paper that clutters up our desks, but there is still some, and in many ways it is even more critical to keep the electronic files orderly to avoid things becoming lost.
This is another one of those issues where the ideal productivity is found in the middle of the road, and if you have ever been on a road you know that most roads have a ditch on either side in which we can become mired down. It does not matter which extreme we choose both have the same effect. This principle of avoiding extremes has applications in nearly every aspect of our lives. For some reason it seems that we all have a human propensity to drift to one side or the other rather than to stay in the middle.
So when it comes to my desk, whether it is my office or my work desk in the garage, I don’t fret too much about it looking like I just moved in. I have found it helpful though to make a point of setting aside a clean up day once in a while before it becomes impossible to function. Admittedly, my personality tends to ride on the more cluttered side of the road, but I do my best to stay out of the ditch. If your personality keeps you on the tidy side perhaps we could consider it balancing the wear on the road. As long as we are aiming for the middle and staying out of the ditches I suspect we will arrive at our intended destination in time.