Osler’s desk

Sir William Osler was probably one of the most prolific, most loved and most respected physicians in American history.  Osler is credited with the concept of journal clubs, with being responsible for bringing medical students onto the wards for “clinical clerkships” and for the structure of the modern medical residency.   Osler is also famous for quotes about medicine and teaching medicine.  But, for this post, I want to focus on something that recently caught my eye … his desk.  Osler wrote the first definitive textbook of Internal Medicine in the United States, The Principles and Practice of Medicine.  I can only assume that a lot of his writing took place at this desk:

Which made me look at my desk and think about desks in general.  There are many of us, particularly in the era of the laptop computer, who use our desks as storage space.  But maybe we are missing an opportunity.  What if, instead of stacking things on our desks, we actually created a space that made it easy to study, read, think and be creative?   Organizing your desk will unquestionably lead to being more productive.  But being productive isn’t the only goal. It’s also important to create a space that makes you look forward to spending “non-productive” time thinking, dreaming and being creative.

Organizing a desk.

  • Keep pens, highlighters, etc that you use in a holder – but only the ones you use.  Get rid of the pens that don’t really work, and the ones you don’t like.
  • Declutter the surface of the desk by hiding electronic wires, filing stacks of papers, etc
  • Keep a scratch notebook on the desk to replace scraps of paper.  Use it for phone messages, ideas, etc.
  • Keep the surface clear of everything except what you are working on (and put it away when you are done)
  • Position your computer screen so it’s ergonomic

Personalizing a desk (and the space it lives in)

  • Make sure you have a great (and very comfortable) chair.
  • Get a really good light.
  • Make sure the area is quiet
  • Keep the area decluttered to decrease visual “stress”
  • If you listen to music when you work, get good speakers for your computer (or a good sound system)
  • Put things in the space that motivate you – art, photos, quotes, etc

Tips for an organized desk from Productivity501.com

3 thoughts on “Osler’s desk

  1. I can’t agree enough about the importance of a good chair. There are some things I will splurge on and other I won’t. Good mattress, good chair are are very important for good health and happiness. First thing I did when I moved into my new office, bought a high quality chair that I would be comfortable working out of all day.

  2. Pingback: From Pre-Med to Med: Making the Transition to Medical School | wellnessrounds

  3. Pingback: From Pre-Med to Med: Making the Transition to Medical School | Momentum - The Baylor College of Medicine Blog

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