Research Finds Having a Messy Work Desk Could Be a Good Thing

Publish Date
Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 1:26PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Is your desk at work really messy? Are you often getting called out for it?

Well, never fear. This might actually be a beneficial way to live!

A study by psychological scientist Kathleen Vohn was published in Psychological Science, and it found that “you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.”

A couple of experiments have been conducted to prove this:

The first trial saw participants fill out questionnaires – some in a “clean and orderly office,” and others in “an unkempt one — papers were strewn about, and office supplies were cluttered here and there.”

The result was that the people with the clean desk did what was expected of them: they made good choices e.g. choosing an apple over a candy bar as a snack on the way out. Those results are expected, really.

But another experiment saw the two groups being asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls, and while those with the messy desk generated the same number of ideas, they were “rated more interesting and creative” by the judges.

According to Vohs, “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.” By contrast, “Orderly environments encourage convention and playing it safe.”

The research suggests that there is a correlation between creativity and mess.

So basically, if you have a messy desk, just know you are contributing to the world in another good way!