messy or tidy desk

Messy or Tidy Desk? What Your Work Desk Says About You

You’ve probably experienced this once in a while: all around you is a messy desk with basically everything just strewn over the table, from papers to pencils. You also probably grunted as you try to reorganize the entire thing, muttering under your breath how a tidy desk would probably save you more time.

Well, not so fast.

There are many pros and cons that come with either desk “style.” You might be surprised to find out that the way your workspace is organized also shows your personality and strengths.

The Tidy Desk

tidy desk

Photo by Slava Keyzman on Unsplash

Okay, so you’re probably this type of person. You just like to have everything in its prim and proper state, so your mind can focus.

And yes, it does help. The focus that a clean desk gives you allows for a greater breadth and depth of focus. There are just fewer things to distract you than in a messy desk.

It also helps you streamline your time and makes it quite easier for you to find things you need. With less time spent on searching through the clutter, the better and more efficient you become.

A clean desk also brings out the “good” side of you, in terms of following social norms and conventions. People with tidy desks are more likely to do what’s expected of them (like donating to charity or eating healthy).

But, a tidy desk can also hurt creativity. This is a direct consequence of the effects of social order that having a tidy desk brings. In a study, people in an orderly workspace were asked to give new uses for ping-pong balls. The ideas they gave were rated as less interesting.

The Messy Desk

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

A messy desk can look like a tornado has passed through it. But don’t underestimate the power of mess too.

If you tend to be messy and disorganized, you’re likely to have one thing rooting for you—you’re far more creative. And that’s because people usually become creative when they’re exposed to a messy environment.

You’ll also be more likely to break away from the conventional and traditional stuff. Having a messy workspace encourages novelty and the use of the unconventional. Out-of-the-box thinking is more likely to be present in people exposed to this type of environment.

But, not all is good and dandy with the messy desk. It can waste a lot of your time. You’re likely to spend quite some time digging through the pile just in search of something.

You can also get in trouble with social norms. Some people tend to judge negatively those with messy desks. So you would need to mind how you act so you won’t offend others.

The Verdict

With the strengths and weaknesses of both styles, you might be tempted to go and organize everything or just wallow in the clutter.

The style you have is a reflection of your personality, your strengths, and your weaknesses. You might be a little bothered by the cons of each style, but you can choose to lessen their negative impact instead of worrying about them.

Whether you’re the proper, tidy desk, or the creative but messy one, everyone should focus on improving their strengths. For the tidy one, it’s their ability to efficiently finish tasks. For the messy one, it’s their creative genius.

Embrace your inner tidy or messy side, and let your skills shine!

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