Cluttered Desk, Creative Mind? Messy Desks Can Stimulate Ideas

August 9, 2013  |  

 

Most schools of thought say a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind. But now a new study says there are benefits to having a messy desk.

According to a study published in Psychological Science, it’s most beneficial to have a messy desk at the beginning of a project and a clean one at the end, reports Business Insider.

Apparently, a messy environment can promote creative thinking and unconventional new ideas. While a clean desk can help your mind focus on order and expectations. “The move away from chaos (the messy desk) will help you finish your project,” the article says.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota had participants with neat and cluttered desks to fill out questionnaires. According to the results, those with cleaner desks tend to donate more to charity, choose healthier snacks, and make better choices altogether compared to their messier peers.

But in a second experiment, participants had to come up with ways to use a ping pong ball. In the findings, those with messy desks were able to come up with more ideas.

“Disorderly environments stimulated creativity, which has widespread importance for culture, business, and the arts,” the researchers said in the study.

In the end, both types of desks have their advantages.

“Proponents claim that people see measurable life improvements from becoming neat and tidy, and they can point to multiple billions of dollars in annual revenue as evidence of success,” the study concluded. “In contrast, many creative individuals with Nobel prizes and other ultra-prestigious awards prefer — and in fact cultivate — messy environments as an aid to their work.”

Which type of desk do you work best at–a messy or a tidy one?

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