Is your desk always a mess? Science says there’s a definite reason why!

Let’s all just admit the fact that our desks are sometimes cluttered with papers and various paraphernalia — and that it’s genuinely difficult to keep them clean. Okay, phew. Accepting that reality feels good. Now listen up, it turns out that there’s perfectly acceptable scientific reason why this mess exists!

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.” We kid you not.


They discovered this by conducting experiments where participants filled 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 donated more money to charity when given the opportunity, and chose an apple over a candy bar as a snack on the way out (i.e. they made the “good” choices). Alright, there’s nothing super surprising about that.

But another experiment saw the two groups being asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls (awesome challenge!), 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.”

So basically, if your desk is kinda messy… it’s okay. You are probably creating just summoning your most creative juices! Of course, there’s a definite advantage to doing things the safer, more comfortable way.


Whatever works best for you!