Author:Kondo, Marie

These words have been attributed to the creative genius and physicist Albert Einstein. Regardless of whether he actually said this, his desk appears to have been buried under piles of books and papers. Similarly, Pablo Picasso painted while surrounded by a jumble of paintings. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, reportedly kept his office cluttered on purpose. Legends of geniuses with messy offices are too numerous to mention. As if to corroborate these, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota concluded that a messy job setting is more likely to generate creative ideas.

Perhaps because such stories abound and run counter to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her KonMari Method, people frequently ask Marie Kondo for confirmation. "But a cluttered desk is good, isn't it?" they'll say. "It stimulates creativity, right?"

Here's a little exercise for you to try. Start by mentally picturing your desk at the office, your studio or your workplace. Next, answer these questions.

* Are you honestly feeling positive about working here right now?

* Does working at this desk every day really spark joy for you?

* Are you sure that you're giving full scope to your creativity?

* Do you really want to come back to this tomorrow?

These questions aren't intended to make you feel bad. They're meant to help you get in touch with how you feel about your work environment. To be honest, it doesn't really matter which is better--a clutter-free desk or one that is total chaos. The most important thing is that you are aware of the kind of environment that brings you joy at work, that you know your own joy criteria. Tidying is one of the best ways to find out.

Many clients who have used the KonMari Method to tidy up their homes end up with a bare and simple interior when they're done, only to realize a little later that they want more decoration. That's when they begin adding accents they love. Often, it is only after tidying up that people realize what kind of environment sparks joy for them.

But a major difference between our home and workspace is that at work, people can see us. At home, almost no one sees our clothes or books, even if they are strewn all over the floor. But an office is a shared space, which makes the difference between a tidy desk and a messy one obvious to all. Surprisingly, this fact has a much greater impact on our working life than most people realize.

Several studies on employee evaluations in the workplace have shown that the tidier a person's space, the more likely others are to see them as ambitious, intelligent, warm and calm. Yet another study showed that such people are seen as confident, friendly, industrious and kind. The list of adjectives makes these people sound like real winners.

The findings of these studies can be summarized in three single points. A tidy desk results in a higher evaluation of our character and capacity. This raises our self-esteem and increases our motivation. As a result, we work harder and our performance improves. Looked at in this way, tidying up sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't it?

It is not just our desks that need tidying. We're...

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