Monday, August 12, 2013

An Upside to Messiness?

by Kate Collins

I don't know how you operate, but I don't work well if there is clutter on or around my desk. It distracts me. But I know people who don't seem to be bothered by a messy desk and I've often wondered how they manage.

Turns out, a new study snows that a messy work environment can bring out a person's creativity and lead to the birth of bold, new ideas. A less- than-perfect work environment can make a person more likely to think out of the box.

According to the findings, "Orderly environments would encourage adherence to social convention and overall conservatism, whereas disorderly environments would encourage people to seek novelty and unconventional routes."

"Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe."
This is just one study, so I'm not taking it that seriously. If you've read any of the Flower Shop Mysteries, you know that my main character, Abby Knight, always thinks outside the box. She's very inventive when it comes to solving a murder case, and what she invents comes directly from my head. And I'm a neat freak. 
My theory is that there are people who do their best work in tidy environments and those who don't really pay attention to what's around them, so do their best work wherever. I have to keep so many details in my head -- all the intricacies of my main characters, all of the suspects and their means, motives, and opportunities, all the subpots and minor characters, not to mention my personal appointments, bills to pay, etc. --   that I need to keep my immediate environment bare. That way I can focus on the clutter in my head, and make sense of it.
That's not to say a cluttered desk is bad. According to this study. something good can come from either setting. A tidy workplace may help people walk a straight line. A messy desk may help them figure out a new way to keep from walking at all.
Which type are you?