A Look At My (Very) Messy Desk

messy desk

I have a wee skyscraper of books on my messy desk at the moment.

It’s about 15 books high, and not very structurally sound. Every time Cookery Ed Marion stands up, it wobbles alarmingly — but has yet to fall.

It’s all built up on a base of James Martin’s latest cookbook, which must explain why it’s doing so well. Good foundations, and all that . . .

The danger is that once they go away in a drawer, it becomes too easy to forget about them. And, of course, the books come in as fast as you can find a home for them.

Although we ship them off to Barnardo’s once we’ve used them, they mount up again before you know it.

Nobody would ever say my desk was tidy, but I was buoyed by articles I read online about how a disorganised desk does not mean the owner of said desk is less productive.

Research from a couple of years ago suggests that not only do those with a messy desk come up with as many ideas as tidy deskers, but that “their ideas were rated as more interesting and creative when evaluated by impartial judges”.

messy desk

Photo by Jacob Harris/AP/Shutterstock.

The desk above belonged to Albert Einstein, who was totally unapologetic about his lack of tidyness!

Not that I’m equating myself with a genius. But it’s good to know that even the best of the brains work happily with a few paper piles about the place.

Some people have said that an overly clean, paperless desk without any sign or indication of the personality of the person sitting at it can have an impact on their creativity.

There’s such a think as too “sterile” an environment. Feeling calm, comfortable and little bit at home leads to creativity, and having some of your own nick-nacks around really helps with that. It’s one reason why folk are now saying hot-desking might not bring the best out in workers.

Plus there’s always the question of whether or not it’s sustainable. If keeping things in perfect order takes a lot of time, is it time well spent?

One study certainly seems to think so, saying that others do judge you differently for having a messy place.

Though, to be honest, the set-up of that experiment seems a bit overdone (why have the clock telling the wrong time?).

Plus, although it might affect some people’s judgement of you, that judgement isn’t necessarily correct. In fact, the evidence seems to be more the other way.

But at the end of the day, surely it’s really just a question of what works best for each of us?

As with anything else in life, we’re all different. And as long as there are no old food biohazards hiding underneath some ring binders — or your chaos poses an imminent threat to your colleagues’ health — it’s OK to work differently, isn’t it*?

How do you work best? Tidy or messy? Let us know!

Catch up with more blogs from the team right here.

*within reason. Lack of hygiene/unsanitary behaviour not included!

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.