Research Points to Increased Creativity at Messy Workspaces (Finally!)

At long last, messy workers can unite!

How many times have we heard the benefits of being organized and consequently more productive? Blah blah blah.

(Okay, yes we know the importance of a very tidy desk but go with us here, okay? It’s very rare to hear about benefits of being disorderly and we simply must bask in our brief but shining moment.)

If you’re like us and tend to um, embrace the clutter, you may get a kick out of this study. A piece about workspace on 99u mentioned a study conducted at the University of Minnesota. Apparently participants in a messy room were evaluated as more creative than participants in non-messy environments!

That’s worth repeating: Participants in a messy room concocted more creative uses for a ping pong ball than participants who were tested in a neat room. Results reinforced researchers’ original thoughts: They originally hypothesized that working in a disorderly environment would encourage people to seek “novelty and unconventional routes.” They surmised people in orderly environments would “encourage adherence to social convention and overall conservatism.” And yes, they were right!

In fact, Eric Abrahamson has stated people with extremely functional desks frequently struggle to locate things due to overly complicated filing systems. The co-author of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder emphasizes the disorderly desk instead. Per the piece on 99u, there are benefits to being messy such as finding things you didn’t expect. Plus, you may come across an innovative idea you scribbled on a piece of scrap paper two years ago. Abrahamson, you’re speaking our language.