October 27, 2013

What A Messy Desk (Or A Clean Desk) Really Means About You

Take a look at your desk. Is it clean or messy? Is it simple to find what you need or are you always searching for things? What could your desk possibly say about you as a person?

Think about your desk. Are you a person with labeled folders, neatly stacked papers, sorted business cards, and a trash free workplace? Or do you tend to have an endless disarray of papers, knick knacks, old newspapers, and bottomless post-it notes on your desk?

Many people associated tidy workspaces with productivity and they strive for a spotless workplace. Luckily, both organized and messy are good things according to one recent study.

A study from the University of Minnesota that was published on Psychological Science, examines what your desk says about you. The study looked at thought processes, creativity, health choices, and generosity. The results are interesting.

The  study consisted 3 experiments where people worked at different workplaces – a clean one and a messy one. The first experiment had them work, then asking them if the wanted an apple or a chocolate bar and  if they would like to donate money. The second experiment had people brainstorm each type of desk.  Then finally the participants were asked if they wanted to try a new or classic health “boost” in a smoothie.

To make the experiment a bit more exciting, check out what the desks looked like here. Which work environment would you thrive in? Which one is more like where you do your work? Be honest.

The results of the study show that people with a clean desk usually choose healthy foods, are more generous,  and follow the rules. People who have a messy desk that’s a bit more cluttered tend to be more creative and innovative. How do you and your desk compare to these results?

The conclusion from the study, is that both clean desk and messy desks are good things because we need both sorts of people. Think about your desk and what it means about you before you apply for your next job.


About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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