Why Messy People Are Actually Productive Geniuses

There’s no denying that society typically prefers people to be clean over being messy.

Messy people typically leave things all over their desks, cars and bedrooms, leading spouses, parents and coworkers everywhere to deem these people lazy. There’s cold, hard proof, however, that some of the smartest, most inventive people were messy.

On the day Einstein died, photographer Ralph Morse took a picture of his desk, and—you guessed it—it was as cluttered as could be. A famous quote by Einstein perfectly justifies this messy habit. He said: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”


So, there you have it. Even geniuses can be messy. But what else does being messy say about our personalities?

1. Being Messy Boosts Your Creativity

A study conducted by Kathleen Vohs of The Association for Psychological Science found that a messier environment, compared to one that is neater, sparks more creativity.

Participants in both clean and messy rooms were asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls. While each room came up with the same number of ideas, those in the messier room had ideas that were more interesting and fun when evaluated by impartial judges.

“Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of: Creativity,” Vohs says.

2. Messy People Are More Spontaneous

Since society’s overall preference would likely lean towards being clean vs. messy, those who are messy and embrace this trait could be seen as going against the current and expressing spontaneity. This can then result in more thoughtful, unique ideas in the workplace.

“Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” Vohs says in a different study relating to physical organization.


So what do you think? Is being messy worth the extra boost of creativity or are you a neat freak?

Photo by wanderingone

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