Is A Cluttered Desk A Sign Of Creativity?

Linda LaitalaAround The Table, Business, Career, Employees, Leadership, Management, Quotes, WorkLeave a Comment

What are your thoughts when you see a messy desk?

How about a tidy, organized desk?

A University of Minnesota study indicates that people with messy desks are creative and full of new ideas. A clean desk, by contrast, suggests generosity and conventionality.

The research found that workers with desks in varying states of organization and cleanliness may have various skills to offer. Kathleen Vohs, a University of Minnesota psychological scientist, discovered that “A clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity. We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.”

Being in a clean room seemed to encourage people to do what was expected of them. Compared with participants in the messy room, these participants donated more of their own money to charity and were more likely to choose an apple over a candy bar.

In the messy room, participants were more likely to prefer a new product over an established one – a signal that being in a disorderly environment stimulates a release from conformity.

“Messy environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” Vohs said. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe. Whether you have control over the tidiness of the environment or not, you are exposed to it, and our research shows it can affect you.”

For a different perspective: In a study commissioned by Brother International, the cost of our collective messy desks and time spent looking for misplaced items cost corporate America $177 billion annually. The survey revealed:

  • 40% believe that a messy desk affects their performance
  • 1 in 10 bosses said a messy desk would stop them from promoting an employee
  • 20% admitted their untidiness has resulted in losing an item of financial value

Are you creative or conventional?

Do you consider yourself organized or do you feel comfortable with disorganization?

Whatever your preference, there is an upside and a downside to each. 

The road is easier together,

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