Erin Jensen is an Associate Professor of English at Belmont Abbey College. She has a PhD in Education and Rhetoric and Composition. Her research is focused on pedagogy, multilingual students, and undergraduate research.
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Messy. That might be the most common adjective that I have heard people use to describe my office. And, they are correct. My office is messy. I like my office to be messy and this concept of encouraging “mess” is one that I find a lot of people struggle to understand. For me, I am more productive in a messy office. Regardless if I am evaluating student papers or preparing for a conference or writing an article, I am more calm and at peace if everything around me is in chaos. I have tried to explain this phenomenon to other people and am usually met with looks of disbelief. A couple of times a year, I might go through and throw away some of the papers that are no longer needed, but I soon go back to a messy work space. Many papers have been evaluated at this desk, many articles for publications written here, and many presentations created. Being surrounded by disorder helps my mind be able to focus.
As I look at this picture of my work space, I am surrounded my memories. Among the papers on my desk, I see the picture my child drew for me the last time he came to my office. I can see the handout I just used with my Technical Writing students. I can see the paper plates that I just used as an attention grabber for a presentation. I can see a novel one of my colleagues wrote, and that I would like to read when I find the time. My desk shows my life and life is often messy.