‘If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?’
This quote famously quipped by Albert Einstein has to be my all-time favourite saying – and it’s also my greatest defence for my rather chaotic and unkempt work space.
I discovered I have earned a space in a top-10 list... sadly not for anything like Best Wife in the World or Rear of the Year, but for the slovenly state of my desk.
A list of top-10 Office Annoyances has revealed workers with messy and disorganised desks can be a major source of annoyance to their colleagues.
One of my long-suffering colleagues – in fact the one who sits right next to me – actually forwarded me this top-10 list.
I think his hope was to shame me into tidying my desk, but instead it gave me the perfect topic to write about in this here column as well as launch into my arguments as to why having a messy desk is actually a GOOD thing.
Firstly, I will not lie: my desk is indeed messy with mountains of paper; piles of precariously balanced notebooks; abandoned lunch boxes; empty packets of crisps and dozens of hastily scribbled post it notes to self strewn around.
The underneath of my desk is no better. There’s more paper, discarded envelopes and enough carrier bags to rival a supermarket.
My workmates tease me about how my pigsty-like desk is probably hiding a few missing work experience people – or indeed Lord Lucan and the entire family of The Borrowers.
What my colleagues fail to appreciate is my litter-strewn desk is a sign they are in the vicinity of a genius
.All my fellow untidy desk comrades will be delighted to hear a messy desk is actually a sign of a brilliant mind and someone of high intelligence and creativity.
As well as Einstein, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs all had incredibly disorganised desks.
Apparently, clutter can promote creative thinking and stimulate new ideas and messy people are more likely to break with convention and try fresh things.
Having stuff all around me is like a source of comfort and helps me focus on the task in hand. Besides, when you’re deeply immersed in your work, instead of wasting time tidying up, isn’t it better to devote yourself to doing the best job you can?
A slapdash desk is also a sign of a hard worker.
Let’s face it, busy and smart people don’t have time to squander on straightening up their desk and ensuring there’s a place for everything and everything has its place.
Some people mistakenly think mess equates a muddled mind, but this is far from the case. Despite the dishevelled state of my desk, there is a method to my madness and my mind is actually very organised.
Even when working on a computer, I have multiple tabs open and multi-tasking and keeping an eye on many different things keeps me interested, focused, motivated and alert.
If you’re a like-minded “messy but bright” person like me, next time one of those scary neat freaks armed with wet wipes comes at you telling you, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, just tell them they might just be messing with a genius.