On Pi day we celebrate the birthday of one of the greats. This is a picture of Einstein’s desk taken on the day of his death in 1955. According to Albert Einstein “if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?” Definitely someone who liked a bit of clutter. But out of this clutter came the theory of relativity and he is the father of Pi.
Clutter is something that is not encouraged in the workplace. “Tidy desk, tidy mind” is a familiar phrase that most of us will have heard in our working life. Those of us with tidy desks like order and will probably start each day with a list of things to do which indicates a tidy mind as well.
Our personality traits have a strong bearing in all of this and the state of our desk is a reflection of who we are in the inner workings of our minds.
According to psychologist Kathleen Vohs “orderly environments encourage convention and playing it safe: disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition which can produce fresh insights.”
In the last year Lily Bernheimer from Space Works Consulting has broken this down further into 5 identifiable ‘types’:
The Clutterer – cluttered, chaotic, colourful, excitement seekers who get easily bored and surround themselves with bright lights and knick knacks
The Minimalist – a tidy and organised work space tells people you are very conscientious, orderly, disciplined and cautious. These people tend to make plans and follow routines
The Expander – active in a hot-desking or co-working space, keen to mark their territory, defensive of their space, this may signal this person is less sensitive to those around them
The Surveyor – likes to work with their backs to the wall with a strong need for refuge, tends towards an introvert who need their own fortress to be able to flourish
The Personaliser – people who are more prone to personalise their desk with plants and photos, this can indicate an open person who tends to be artistic and imaginative
As Einstein himself said “Imagination is more important than knowledge” so maybe from time to time a little clutter could be a good thing.