The Messy Desk: How Chaos Breeds Creativity

I have a slight confession…my desk…both ┬ádesks actually in my home office and at work…tend to be on the messy side, things are askew, I put seashells in my bonsai planter, I have a rubber duck AND whale stuck to the side of the computer, a colorful (empty) tea tin sits next to it just because I like it there. I tell people I have a system and they usually laugh at me because the papers strewn across my desk in haphazard piles look chaotic and unorganized…but they’re not.

I used to be a bit fanatical about having everything in my work space locked down, sticky noted, filed and stacked to avoid disapproving glances from parents, my boyfriend and occasionally my cat…but a recent study has given us messy creatives even more of an excuse to leave our creative spaces out of order. Why? Because someone FINALLY discovered scientific proof that chaos breeds creativity (I may or may not have sprinkled some confetti over my desk in celebration…I probably will clean it up…)

The study centered around how people structure their environments to achieve their goals…for example. If you want to do your taxes in one fell swoop it’s more effective to keep all tax information well organized…even more importantly to do said taxes sitting down to a clear clean area . Doing this focuses you and allows you to increase your productivity by limiting distractions.

However, (this is the fun part) put someone trying to concept and think creatively in the same space and that person will struggle with coming up with ideas. Why? Because the space lends itself to conformity, order, and more importantly a task that has a set purpose and a set way of achieving that purpose.

Creativity often comes from divergent thinking, from becoming caught up, enamored, distracted, having something catch your eye, seeing something at a new angle, in a way you hadn’t been able to before… the chance glance at something that sparks and emotion or an idea. Disorder can create an environment for fresh insight, taking a creative risk and trying on new ideas and new perspectives.

Pretty amazing, right?

So messy creatives, absolve yourself from some of the guilt surrounding your messy desk, maybe it’s our inner muse working to create a space for us that is conducive to new ideas. Embrace it…within reason of course. If you can’t get any work done because you can’t find anything…or you have…strange smells coming from your work space and half eatin bits littering your floor…invest in some disinfectant please (pretty please).

I just have to add this part because I find it super interesting. This same study also found that people who had orderly environments made healthier eating choices…my answer? Spotless kitchen, messy desk!

So get out there and make you environment WORK for you!

Anyone else have the same experiences? Share them below!

Here’s some links about this topic you can check out to learn more:

Clean Your Desk for Productivity (Keep it Messy for Creativity)

Say Yes to the Messy Desk