A Messy Desk at Work Could Mean You're More Creative

Why an organized workspace may be working against you

Bad news for neatniks: Your out-of-the-box ideas aren’t going to get you promoted any time soon. The reason: You probably don't have any.

But the girl who sits next to you with the disgustingly messy desk, who (in your opinion) reeks of ineptitude and an obvious lack of professionalism? Yeah, she’s the one who’s going to be moving on up.

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, pristine environments encourage organized, conventional thinking, whereas chaotic spaces push us to be more creative. The research suggests that the best way to approach a brainstorming session or any out-of-the-box thinking is by messying up your workspace.

If the thought of disrupting your pencil tray, which sits at a perfect right angle to your keyboard, makes you shudder, well, the ideas inside your brain are probably very orderly and unimaginative as well. And your cubicle mate whose mess makes you pity her, well, she’s practically a creative genius.

According to the researchers, “disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Being creative is aided by breaking away from tradition, order and convention, and a disorderly environment seems to help people do just that.”

Sigh. I just cleaned my office yesterday.

But, it’s not all gray skies for us clutter-phobes. According to Pacific Standard magazine, previous research has found that sitting in an immaculate space does inspire some positive traits, like generosity and conscientiousness. We donate more money to charity when in an orderly environment and we choose healthy foods over fattening junk more often. A cronut? For me? Oh, no, thanks, I’d rather eat this protein bar. Basically, we’re rigid-as-hell lame asses who try to do everything right thing all of the time. Yawn. So while Sally Slob over there makes off with your corner office, at least you’ll remember to politely congratulate her, and then go take your aggressions out on the treadmill, where you’ll fantasize about gouging Sally’s eyes out with your ever-so-perfectly-sharpened pencils. Oh, wait, sorry. That’s probably just too imaginative for your organized brain to handle.

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