Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
It's late Friday and your desk is probably crowded with the remnants of a killer workweek — papers, multiple pens in a variety of colors, that tiara you wore to your company's '90s-themed prom (maybe that's just us) all covering your precious desk space.
While we often lament how our space grows messier as the week goes by, a recent study makes us wonder if all that mess is actually good for us. Researchers put college kids in two environments — either in an immaculately clean cubicle or a messy, papers-everywhere desk. They then asked them to come up with new uses for a ping-pong ball – an exercise in creativity. And, who do you think dreamed up the most innovative ways to use a plain old ping-pong ball? Those in the messy desk space came up with ideas that were "twice as creative" as those in the clean one.
Although traditional thinking has held that any mess and chaos simply begets more mess and chaos, it seems that's not the whole story. In the same study with the two desks, participants were offered a couple different drink options — one labeled "classic" and one "new." The messy desk folks were far more likely to pick that "new" flavor than "original," further proof that disorder can sometimes lead us to both think and act in unconventional ways.