At work, we recently had a “cleaning day.” My coworkers and I cleaned up our offices and our suite’s common areas. My desk looked pretty good afterwards – for about a week. But then the clutter just started to creep back in. My desk is pretty messy now, as it is most of the time. There are papers and Post-it Notes and doodads all over the place. I just can’t seem to keep it clean. It’s perpetually jumbled.

Do you have a similarly messy desk? If so, you might feel a little guilty about it. (I feel a little ashamed sometimes.) But according to author Geoffrey James, we shouldn’t feel bad about our messy desks. James believes that a messy desk might be linked to brilliance!

James points out that a lot of famous geniuses had messy desks, including Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs. Einstein was famously quoted as saying, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Keeping an office clean takes time away from other useful endeavors that you could be engaging in. And researchers at the University of Minnesota actually found a connection between messiness and creativity.

The researchers asked two sets of students to generate unique ideas. One group was working in a neat and tidy setting. The other group was working in a messy setting. Both groups came up with the same number of ideas. But the students working in the messy setting had ideas that were more innovative and creative.

So if you have a messy desk, don’t feel guilty about it. Embrace it! It might just be a sign of your genius!

James, G. (2017, July 9). A messy desk is a sign of genius, according to science. Inc. Retrieved from: