Messy Shop Owners: Own It

In last issue’s editorial, Rob noted that cleanliness is not the natural state of his shop. (Editor’s Note: Or his office.) Some of you had some reaction to what this means, for your shops. – Editor

“Funny story. My shop is almost always a mess, but I feel if it is too clean you aren’t using it, and I do. I always admired by brother-in-law’s shop in central Ontario where I felt you could eat off the floor, always spotless. Really couldn’t figure out how he did it because he also uses it. They came east to visit, and I admitted I was embarrassed to show my shop’s condition. His wife then told me he didn’t clean it, she did; he is as messy as me, but she would go out in the evening to clean it up.” – John van Veen (Pictou, Nova Scotia)

“I worked at my profession for 47 years. People were always pulling on my chain for the terrible appearance of my desk. I always said that I was not hired to be a filing clerk. My workbench was cluttered, but not messy like my desk. I was taught and taught my kids, ‘If you make a mess, You clean it up.’

“Years ago, there was an article in a national magazine written by a psychologist who said that the human race is broken up into two kinds of people:  those who organize internally and those who organize externally. Those who organize externally always have a spotless working surface: an inbox and an outbox. No clutter, no magazines, no pencils, etc. At the end of the day, their desk is spotless with a full outbox. (It has been my experience, these people have secretaries, etc. who do all the filing and work of keeping things put away.)

“People who organize internally know where things are – they don’t need to necessarily have to have it filed. I worked with a gentleman that was older than myself whose office always looked like a disaster waiting to happen. There were stacks of formulas, correspondence and technical magazines everywhere. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you could walk into his office and ask him about something; he would walk over to a pile that was 18 to 30 inches tall and go down so far and pull out the object you had asked about. The system did not always work. Sometimes we have too many balls in the air at one time. Periodically we have to file and throw away to start over. But we who organize internally know what’s happening.

“Since I finish all of my projects with brushed polyurethane varnish, you got to periodically vacuum up the sawdust cause you got no one to blame but yourself when the finish is not up to your own standards.

Rob, I’m with you. BUT we got to do it.  If the shoe fits, wear it.” – Richard Melton (Evansville, Indiana)

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