A Fine Mess
Many would say that a clear workspace brings focus, clarity and structure (indeed, cleaning one’s desk is often one of the top tips for overcoming creative block). A lack of distractions allows the mind to concentrate fully on the task at hand. Put simply, the argument is: if your desk is littered with random artefacts, then you can’t focus. Anxiety sets in, which means creativity simply cannot flow.
Or can it? Cluttered desk advocates argue that an environment devoid of character is unlikely to inspire creativity. They argue firmly against the ‘mess creates stress’ brigade, claiming that orderly environments fail to fire up the creative brain adequately, resulting in ideas that play things safe and fail to break new ground.
It’s all a matter of creative approach. In order to think outside the box and create something truly original, the mind needs to wander and form mental links between things that might not usually connect with one another. It’s those random connections that can often lead to a creative spark, hence the belief that a cluttered environment is what is needed for us to reach our true creative potential.
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” – Albert Einstein