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Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

Right Trax Training Ltd

Learning & Development Consultant

Read more from Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

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Tidy Desk, Uncreative Mind?


What does your work space look like…do you work at a tidy, organised clean desk where everything has a place or is it at risk of being condemned for chaos and disorder? A recent study has suggested that having a disorganised desk and environment may encourage creative thinking and stimulates innovation.

Many of us work in regulated environments where there is a need to have a clear desk in order to satisfy confidentiality and security requirements. However, we don’t really have to have a minimalistic style just to fulfil legal and regulatory obligations. As long as confidential information is not kept out in the open then should a messy desk be frowned upon or viewed as a space to harness creativity?

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Albert Einstein

Let’s get rid of some popular myths surrounding creativity…it’s not only the domain of your Marketing team, it’s not just beanbags and blue sky thinking and you don’t need to be a “certain” type of person to be creative. In fact, the potential to be creative is in us all. Everything we do or say has creative potential, whether it’s cooking a new recipe or trialling a different route to work. You don’t have to paint pictures, create dramatic sculptures or write inspiring poetry to be considered creative…the inner artist is within each of us.

So how can you spark your own creativity? We all get creative in different ways so here are some thoughts to help inspire your inner artist…

  • Curiosity killed the cat…or did it? Question the norm and challenge existing theories or policies; don’t think that the mundane and mediocre has to be accepted. Ask the questions that you’ve always wanted to ask and be brave. The only silly question is the one that doesn’t get asked.
  • Go with your gut – Don’t be put off by scepticism and trust your own instincts. Be bold and adventurous and don’t let the impossible stop you from achieving the possible.
  • A room with a view – Creativity is about looking at things in new ways or from a different perspective and generating new possibilities or alternatives  So what type of environment inspires you…do you need external stimulation with energetic music and gadgets or a quiet calm place which helps to maintain focus?
  • I want to be alone – Creativity doesn’t necessarily require a room full of people brainstorming. Sitting down in a quiet, comfortable space reflecting or thinking quite deeply has its advantages, but do get input from others to help spark more thoughts and ideas.
  • Let’s brainstorm – This is one of the most well-known tools and is used to trigger and challenge our own thinking. Bouncing off the thoughts of others can get us out of a thought-rut and open up new creative avenues.  Always establish ground rules to create a purposeful environment where everyone feels valued and included…read more on brainstorming here.
  • Have fun – Positive thinking can spur creativity so it’s important to enjoy yourself and not take things too seriously.
  • Don’t be a couch potato – Creative thinking needs to be exercised and developed regularly, so investigate new and different methods and techniques.

What do you think…does your workspace influence your own creative thinking?  Tell us in our comments section.

Right Trax Training are a training, development and consultancy business who are passionate about helping other businesses be successful through their people.  We can help them to be more creative too (tidy desks or not!).  Get in touch to find out how we can help.

One Response

  1. The impact of ‘hot desking’

    I think this is a really interesting post.  For years, we have all been told that 'clear desks' allow for greater productivity as things can be more easily found (I remember on statistic quoted in The Times back in 2002 which stated that the average London office worker lost 17.5 days each year looking for papers and documents which where somewhere in their office), however, it is much harder to measure creativity.

    For me personally, I can't get creative at a cluttered desk.  It reminds me of all the other things that are sitting waiting for my attention.  But when 'creating' I do work in a cluttered way – using post-it's and having flipcharts on the wall for example.

    To add to your list of suggestions for stimulating creativity I also like to use a set of Creative Whack cards when I'm struggling to get the creative juices following.  If you've not heard of them, I'd highly recommend them.  It's a set of 64 cards (like playing cards) each which has it's own thinking strategy on it to help prompt you to think about an issue differently.  I've used it in facilitated workshops, small discussions with my own team and individually. 


Author Profile Picture
Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

Learning & Development Consultant

Read more from Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

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