Management Magazine
Office Diary

The mess is inspirational

Working in disarray is a characteristic of a genius mind


Have you ever judged a person by how neatly his or her workstation is organised? Listening to the famous author, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie candidly tell the single story narrative leaves a gaping question: Why are positive attributes based on single story perceptions?  What everyone considers the yardstick of success may not be the standard for everyone. Psychologists have unearthed numerous personality types that determine the things that makes a person feel the greatest fulfilment and these differ with personalities. For some it’s a tidy, well organised life while for others it’s the mess in their environment that spikes them to be artistic and make unique creations. The great psychoanalyst Sigmund Freund is quoted as having said,” don’t clear the mess, I know where everything is.” The authors of the book; A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, build on this argument saying that working in disarray is a characteristic of a genius mind.  

Very few people consider a messy working space as an inspirational setting since neatness is elevated as the aspirational attribute. Below are advantages of messiness that will make you cut short your stern judgement of people who appear disorganised but are highly productive.


Being used to commotion helps an individual thrive in chaos, hence helping one acquire traits that allow them adjust to changes easily. Employers find such kind of people extremely valuable as these are unconventional employees capable of handling storms. Businesses need individuals who can not only handle messes, but who do their best thinking and leading in the midst of turmoil. People who prefer order feel overwhelmed and overly-stressed when plans go awry.

Breaking free of social expectations

Just as the theory affect heuristic posits that the emotions one is going through at a certain point in time influences the decisions they make on other matters at that particular time, a messy environment opens one’s mind to indefinite possibilities as it is thought stimulating. Researchers at the University of Minnesota figured out that people in cluttered environments come up with better ideas than those in neatly organised spaces. In their study, they asked people in neatened up spaces and others in messy spaces to fill out a series of forms. One of the questions asked the test subjects to come up with alternative uses for ping-pong balls. The scientists were way more impressed with the ideas from the people in the messy environment. This is proof that a disorderly environment helps you break free of tradition and plunge into unconfined imagination and creativity. On the contrary, the neat freaks are often risk averse avoiding uncertainty at all costs.


In conclusion, it is rewarding to embrace a positive attribute, such as neatness but only if it does not hinder you from expressing your unique personality to live up to socially constructed bars. 

Caroline Mwendwa is the Editor Management Magazine. Email:

Related posts

Know-you at work, its healthier and happier

Derrick Vikiru

Silver linings in a financial meltdown

Derrick Vikiru

Handling employee exit

Derrick Vikiru