Being organized is what feels comfortable; it is what works for you, and sometimes being organized looks like a mess, so don’t let criticism cramp your style. Be confident that having a messy desk is okay, if it is organized.
If the mess on top of your desk is comfortable and if you are not losing productivity, then in essence you are organized. For most organized people with messy desks, the mess on top of the desk is a get-it-done-now box. For example, if the piles are high, then there is a lot of work to do, but if the desk is clean, then work is complete. Therefore, having a neat desk is a visible symbol of the hard work that was accomplished. And that feels good.
It is very important that the desktop is a comfortable and productive place to work. Distinguish the difference between being comfortable with a mess and having a productive area to work. Your work area needs to serve its purpose. If for example, the piles on top of the desk cover the entire working surface of the desk, it would be very difficult for you to be productive. If the piles are covering up or in the way of key instruments, like mouse pads, pencil sharpeners, calculators, and calendars, then it would also be hard for you to be productive.
So be confident when criticism comes your way about how much of a mess your desk is. When someone criticizes your desk, proudly say, “I am organized,” and know deep down inside, that if you are being productive, that it is true. But remember, it can be a fine line between a productive mess and an unproductive one.