Is There a Link Between Clutter and Productivity?

Messy deskWe’ve all been told that cleanliness is next to godliness. And whether or not you ascribe to that particular bit of wisdom, recent studies have indicated that cleanliness may not necessarily equate to productivity—not in an office environment, anyway.

We’ve all worked for or with people that firmly believe that if you want to get work done and remain organized, you must keep a clean workspace. For the most part, these people are highly organized my nature and tend to be very meticulous about fine details.

However, you might not be too surprised to find that creative types tend to be a bit messier. Their workspaces are often cluttered and messy. They know exactly where everything is, but need to look through mounds and mounds of documents, scattered all over their desk, to find it.

Some of you are shuddering at that thought, aren’t you?

Well, a consumer study conducted in 2011 actually discovered that clutter can help stimulate creativity and efficiency. It is also thought to help with decision making and productivity. This is especially startling given that the study was originally intended to prove that messy environments hurt productivity.

To back up this assertion, a recent article in the New York Times tackled a similar topic. They even went so far as to suggest that a clean space indicates that not much work is taking place. This does have some merit to it; nine times out of ten, any messy space you see is usually occupied by a super-busy worker. Meanwhile, the clean space feels like a creepy abandoned house.

Keep in mind, these are suggestions that have been basically proven by actual studies—they are not just the opinions of workers that have better things to do that organize their desks.

What are your thoughts on a messy workspace? And, speaking of which, what state is your workspace in?

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