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That Messy Office Contest 2016 Results

Well, the deadline has passed. How did you do on your office cleanup?

I did fabulously well, if I do say so myself. 

You be the judge. Below is my messy office before the cleanup (click image for a larger panorama).

photo collage of GGs office before cleanup


And below here is my tidy office after (click image for a larger panorama). Notice any difference?

photo collage of GGs office after cleanup


That Messy Office 2016 Contest winner

And here’s our undisputed winner in the Messiest Office category: Domenic Livoli, a masonry estimator and consultant from Upton, MA.

Awash in paper, his office contains, “receipts all over the place dating back to 2010, old statements in envelopes, magazines, box of my mom’s estate papers, piles of old price lists and catalogs.”

photo of messy office

How does he plan to clean it up?

“I need to go paperless!” he says.

We agree; getting rid of unnecessary papers—and then generating fewer in the future—are key tasks in any office cleanup. 

We’re sending Domenic a copy of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. We hope that inspires him to get to it!

For some reason, we didn’t get many other entries. Perhaps our readers are either (a) really tidy already, or (b) too embarrassed to reveal the depths of their mess to anyone else.

Or maybe y’all simply had better things to do with your time than deal with office clutter?!

How I did my cleanup

I can tell you, it wasn’t easy excavating my messy office. That took me 7 days, often long into the night.

I sold off a portable air conditioner I hadn’t turned on in 10 years and made a quick couple hundred in cash.

I recycled many boxes of papers. I gave away a pile of books and gear. I returned tools and hardware to my workbench.

I still have about 10 boxes of papers in the basement; most are previous work samples. They may not give me much joy but I’m not ready to chuck them just yet.

What difference does a tidier office make?

I’ve always loved my work but now it’s more pleasant. I can walk into my uncluttered office without feeling like I’m wading upstream.

I can host two visitors at once, each with their own chair. And I don’t have to clear off a pile of papers before they can sit down.

I can spread out a file on my desk without balancing it on top of heaps of other projects.

Best of all, I’ve noticed I’m knocking items off my To Do list a little faster. Likely because I’m wasting less time searching through piles or worrying what I’ve lost under them.

And here’s another bonus: author Marie Kondo suggests that the process of de-cluttering hones your decision-making powers. It’s true. After spending the summer making thousands of tiny decisions about whether to keep or discard things, I’m finding that I’m faster at deciding whether some random e-mail is worth reading, some paper is worth filing away, or some new idea is worth developing.

All in all, I feel more relaxed when I come to work, and happier when I leave. Those are great feelings!

What will I do differently from now on?

As a personal reward for my cleanup, I got myself a 27-inch iMac for my standing desk. Now I plan to do more on the screen and less on paper.

For example, now I keep my browser bookmarks organized so I can quickly find helpful webpages again. Thank you, OneTab for Chrome and Firefox.

Like Domenic, I’ll be using less paper. And I’ll make a point of filing away the papers I really do want to keep.

This could take me an hour at the end of every week. That will be well worth it if I never have to face another monumental cleanup like the one I just came through.


Have you tidied up your messy office yet? How did you do it, and what did you learn? Please leave your comments below.

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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  1. Chris Quirk on September 22, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Congratulations, enjoy the iMac, and thanks for the OneTab tip. Very helpful!

  2. Ann Grove on October 7, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Congratulations, Gordon, on the clean up … and congrats to Domenic too for admitting to the problem! A friend of mine with a clutter inclination shared that about once a week he asks himself what would he change in his space if the Dalai Lama were coming to visit.

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