Does a Messy Desk Mean a Creative Mind?

Many of the greatest minds in past and current history sat behind very unkempt desks. What does your desk say about you?

Rob Spiegel

January 6, 2015

1 Min Read
Does a Messy Desk Mean a Creative Mind?

How messy is your desk? Some claim an untidy desk reveals a cluttered mind. Albert Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Another defender of the messy desk, Harold Geneen said, “If your desk isn't cluttered, you probably aren't doing your job.”

So we turn to the author who wrote the book on disorder, David Freedman, co-author of A Perfect Mess. He noted that a cluttered desk shows that “you're not the kind of person who places neatness and organization over actual efficiency, because a messy desk tends to be more efficient than a very neat desk."

Freedman even argues that a cluttered desk is more efficient than a clean desk. "A survey found that people who had messy desks spent less time hunting for things than people who had very neat desks. That makes a lot of sense, because, when you have a messy desk, you're arranging things in a way that's customized to the way you think and work."

We decided to look through history to see who actually sat behind a messy desk. We’ve also include a couple famous messy desks from the movies.

What does your workspace look like? Send us a photo or share it with us in the comments. We'll share our favorites in another slideshow!

Click the image to start the slideshow:

It takes a messy desk to invent the Internet. In all fairness to this cluttered desk owner, Al Gore co-sponsored the bill that turned the Army’s global network over to the public, thus setting the World Wide Web on fire.

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About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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