Clutter drives creativity

By Mallory Hopkins |

My favorite thing about the start of a new school year is getting to buy all new school supplies and arranging my desk just the way I want it. It’s a far cry from what I dreaded about the close of the fall semester: The thought of having to go through all the things that hid my desk. I had to ask myself, what happened between then and now? What phenomenons swallowed my nice neat desk? Life happened.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s much people can do for a disorganized desk when there’s a lot going on. A recent study at the University of Minnesota says that a messy desk can even be a positive thing because it stimulates your creativity.

The messier my desk is, the harder it is for me to focus and get stuff done. At least, that’s what I thought. A study at University of Minnesota published in 2013 says different. Conducted by Vohs, Redden, and Rehinel: the outcome of the study showed that clutter in workspaces can actually enhance creativity, rather than stifle it. During the study, the scientists put test subjects in two different environments and asked them to perform relatively creative tasks. The test subjects in the messier space were able to come up with more creative ideas.

In a recent article in the New York Times’ Sunday Review titled “It’s Not ‘Mess. It’s Creativity,” Vohs said, “While cleaning up certainly has its benefits, clean spaces might be too conventional to let inspiration flow.” While I had been stressing about the cleanliness of my desk, the notion that it can affect my work had all been in my head.

So myself and the study say, embrace the mess. Let your desk reflect your life. Derive from clutter rather than stress about it. However, this semester I will remind myself to keep the clutter to a certain level so I can still see the line between manageably messy and getting gross.

What do other Flagler College students have to say about the state of their desks? Here’s what I found:


Gabrielle Garay “If I had nothing to do, there’d be nothing on this desk. My desk reflects how busy I am—the clutter of my mind.”



Danielle Simmons “I try to keep my desk clear, but it always just ends up covered in the things that are most important at the moment.”



Selbe Dittman “My life is hectic, so my desk is hectic.”



Jordan Puyear “I try to keep my desk as organized as possible, because if I have a cluttered desk, I have a cluttered mind. Really what matters to me is what is on the wall behind my desk. I put up pictures of my family, friends. favorite actors/actresses, and other vibrant pictures to make me smile every time I look up.”


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