Five Reasons Why a Messy Desk Is a Good Thing

Do you have a neat desk or a messy desk? We hear all the time how we should have a neat and organized desk and the criticisms of a messy desk, but this gives one writer’s views on why a messy desk can actually be better than a tidy one – from beating procrastination to being creative.

By Jennifer Williamson

Five Reasons Why a Messy Desk Is a Good Thing There’s a lot of bias out there against messy desks. If you’re not neat and organized, your co-workers might make assumptions about your capabilities and, even worse, your boss might criticize you for it. But is it really that bad to have a messy desk? And is being organized really as good as we all think? Here are five reasons why a messy desk might be a positive thing.

1. It Takes Time to Organize
Some experts have suggested that the time it takes you to organize your desk can be more productively spent doing your job – and that organization doesn’t save you a large amount of time anyway. Disorganized people often claim that they know where everything is, and this is often true. And if you’re well organized but the paper you need is across the office in your filing cabinet, it may take you just as long to get your hands on it as it would if it were under a pile on your desk.

2. Everything’s in Front of You
People with messy desks may actually be less prone to procrastination. That’s because your papers are all in front of you, not filed away in a filing cabinet where they’ll be easy to forget. Your desk may be messy, but at least you can see at a glance what needs to get done.

3. Searching Through the Piles Helps you Make Connections
When you have to go digging through your papers to find something on a messy desk, you can dig up all sorts of things – projects you’ve been putting off, old ideas you’ve been thinking about, and even other projects and information that fit with what you’re working on now. If your desk were organized, your projects would never “mix” like this, and you may miss out on some important connections.

4. Organization is a Form of Procrastination
You can spend hours every day organizing things instead of getting real work done. With a messy desk, you naturally organize your work in a way that reflects how your mind works. When your desk is messy, you may actually be more efficient and effective than if you’re organized.

5. Creative Thinkers Are Messy
Creative thinkers tend to have messy desks. In January 2006, a study of hundreds of CEOs indicated that the highest scorers in innovation and risk-taking scored lowest on organizational and neatness skills. Creative people organize their desks intuitively to correspond with the way their minds organize information, and studies suggest that people with messy desks have great career potential.

So next time somebody criticizes you for having a messy desk, don’t feel guilty or try to organize. Be proud of your mess. It indicates a creative, innovative mind, and it means you’re probably more productive than your organized colleagues!

Jennifer Williamson runs a successful business as an article writer in southern Pennsylvania, writing for clients all over the world. Her website, Catalyst Writing Services, can be found at For more of her advice on writing and article marketing, visit her writing blog at

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