How Office Clutter Affects Your Creativity

A recent study by Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota discovered that messiness may actually assist the creative process. Disordered spaces seem to encourage people to think outside the box. In direct contrast is author Marie Kondo’s recommendation that you throw out anything you don’t absolutely love – minimize to the max. Can your office find a middle ground between stifling tidiness and creative disorder?

Organizational expert Brooks Palmer says it comes down to definition: Clutter amounts to the things we keep on our desks that do not serve us – for example, papers or equipment we don’t currently need. He suggests that his clients assess whether each item is something positive. Is it something needed for the task at hand? Is it something for emotional uplift (a birthday party hat, a photograph)? Or is it something that’s been there so long it has become part of the background – negative, because it doesn’t serve the task at hand. If the item isn’t positive, then dispose of it. If it will be needed in the future, store it appropriately.

Palmer’s approach doesn’t advocate minimalism or arranging your books in alphabetical order. Messiness is fine, as long as everything in the mess serves you for the current task. Let the disorder spur your creativity, and talk to a consultant about a high-density storage system for all the “clutter” you need to save for the next task.

 

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