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Where do you rank on the office clutter continuum?
Do you clear off your desk at the end of every day? Or do you work with unlimited piles on the desk and floor?
Now rank your productivity. Do you know where everything is in your messy confines or does the office clutter take your breath away?
Experts have often disagreed about which is better for productivity and there are two differing thoughts. One group believes that clutter is a sign of internal struggle in a different area of your life. Another group believes that clutter indicates your creative ability to think outside the box.
A Messy Office May Indicate Personal Turmoil
According to professional organizer and author Ranka Burzan, “People who constantly live in a state of chaos are prone to procrastination and an inability to commit to work or relationships. They get anxious and overwhelmed with change and usually give up before they even start the project. Their finances and time are wasted; they feel stuck and bad about themselves”.
If you’re a person with clutter, think about how you feel entering your cluttered room. Does it feel heavy to you, or difficult to breathe? Do you feel the weight of the clutter on your shoulders? For myself, I notice a definite change in energy, to the point where I open the door and immediately want to close it again.
When a Messy Desk Spurs Creativity
Some very significant geniuses were famous for working in messy quarters. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs are just three such brilliant minds who could be creative and change the world in a messy environment. In fact, Einstein is credited with this quote, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Researchers at the University of Minnesota studied the messy vs clean desk conundrum and published their findings in Psychological Science. Their subjects were divided into two groups: One group completed questionnaires in clean, tidy environments while the second group answered in messy environments.
Those in clean surroundings tended to do good things, such as eat healthier foods, donate to charity, and do what was expected. However, all was not lost on those who filled out their questionnaires in a messy environment.
In a separate experiment, researchers asked participants to develop new uses for a ping pong ball. Again, two groups participated and brainstormed, one in a clean environment and the other in a messy room. While both groups developed new ideas, those who sat in a messy room contributed more innovative and creative ideas according to impartial judges.
So, which is Better: Messy or Clean?
Basically, the answer is to work in an environment that best suits you.
I know, that’s boring. However, your productivity is based upon your own work habits and your abilities to tune out distractions. If you know where everything is among your 20 piles of paper, don’t stress over it.
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