I’ve been catching up on my reading, starting with the stack of newspapers that piled up over the past nine weeks while I was in the sunny south.

Besides discovering that hindsight is 20/20 when reading the backlog of horoscopes, I also found out I’m a Spreader with borderline Piler tendencies, according to John Goddard of the Toronto Star.

© Cheryl Andrews

In his article “Bringing Order to Office Clutter“, Goddard interviews Isolde O’Neill, a professional organizer who claims, “People will not stick to a solution [aka bring order to their offices] if it doesn’t match how their mind works.”  How does that adage go again … messy desk, tidy mind; tidy desk, messy mind?


© Cheryl Andrews

Artistic types fall into O’Neill’s Spreader group, people who let their stuff migrate.  A clue in identifying a Spreader is not just our advanced intellect and minds brimming with ideas, but by checking out the space under our desks and in our desk drawers – our stuff is everywhere.

©Cheryl Andrews

And when a spreader puts things in a drawer, we just toss it into the mess.  Personally, I relish the jumble, colours and tangled textures tossing creates – it never gets boring, always new and fresh!

Actually from these pictures things look pretty good, but then I’ve only been home four days. Yup, I have two desks, two computers, two chairs and an assortment of other furniture and bookshelves crammed into my home office, all with inviting flat surfaces … enter the Piler.


© Cheryl Andrews

I think I’m a great multi-tasker, a telling characteristic of Pilers.  O’Neill nails it when she says we ” … stack things on the desk, the floor, the window ledge – on any flat surface that keeps their material apparently in sight and close at hand.”

Pilers think chronologically not alphabetically and O’Neill says, “You have to reinvent what a filing system is to them …”  Well, I’ve re-invented my system many, many times and still don’t trust it … things just seem to disappear in there, never to be retrieved when you really need them.

© Cheryl Andrews

Oh, and when I run out of flat surfaces, I take it to the wall, where the book I’m working on just keeps spreading out.


My husband is definitely a Filer, “… the lifeblood of a smooth-running organization…”, according to O’Neill. Filers are perceived not only as efficient and productive, but also as resistant to change!  My Filer is terrified to set foot in my office,  preferring to stay in the doorway waving my mail at me.  When I want to watch my neat-freak cringe, I tell him to just drop it on the pile of (mostly unopened) mail on the floor!


I know a Nester or two.  They like to personalize their work space with “… photos, clothes, food, holiday snapshots, children’s artwork – the office space becomes a home away from home.”  According to O’Neill a Nester,  “Under the guise of making a workplace welcoming … can sabotage a professional atmosphere.”  Not sure I agree with her on that last point.

What’s your style?