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Messy or tidy: What a marketing manager’s desk says about their work style


“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Albert Einstein’s most famous office supplies-related quotation is often referred to by marketing managers to defend their more laid-back approach to how they organise their desks. Since childhood, tidiness has been drummed into us by parents and teachers alike – successfully or not – and expounded as a virtue, while we were taught to associate messiness with chaos and disorganisation. New research has put a new spin on these prejudices that might help explain why some marketing managers’ desks are messier than others.

Messy people are more easily distracted, while tidy people like to simplify complexity.

So what makes some marketing managers messy and some tidy? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wrote an interesting article about the science and psychology behind these two types of individuals here. Messy people view the cost of tidying to be greater than the benefits of tidiness. Another hypothesis is that they’re easily distracted by more interesting things. Maybe if Einstein had been more inclined to tidy his desk he wouldn’t have discovered the theory of relativity. Tidy people, on the other hand, get aesthetic or emotional value from a tidy environment, which justifies the action of keeping their space orderly. Tidying is also a way to combat the complexity of our day-to-day lives.

There are advantages to being both messy and tidy.

What effect does a messy desk have on the way we work, act and think? A research team at the University of Minnesota published a study on Psychological Science that discovered some interesting findings. In a tidy environment the subjects in the study were found to make healthier eating choices, made more conventional decisions and were also more generous. However, those in the messy environment generated more interesting and creative ideas when posed with a problem-solving task, and were also more disposed to try new things. It seems that both messy and tidy environments bring their own set of advantages. 

Marketing is the meeting point of organisation and innovation. 

Your immediate workspace is a reflection on your unique working style. This Business Intelligence blog demonstrates the sheer range of desk styles that business executives from all kinds of industries have. There won’t ever be the ideal desk, because marketing managers each have their own modus operandi. Consumers are becoming ever harder to please – we have the infinite amount of information and media available on the internet to thank for that. As a result, marketing managers need to be creative and break the mould with innovative strategies to stay ahead of the competitive. But a successful marketing campaign must be just as organised as it is cutting-edge, demonstrating that both tidiness and messiness have their place at the office.

Stationery suppliers bring both order and creativity to workspaces.

So where do stationery suppliers come into all this? The digital age might have made it easier to keep a tidy desk (watch this animation on BGR to see how desks have transformed from the 1980s to today), but stationery suppliers still play a role in keeping desks tidy and messy. For when you need to be ordered and measured they come to the rescue with desk sorters, agendas for keeping schedules and waste paper bins to take care of rubbish. For when you need to be messy, stationery suppliers can sort you out with Post-its to stick on the walls around you, flip charts and glass boards for brainstorming and all manner of markers, pens and pencils for scribbling down flashes of inspiration.

However messy or tidy your desk, stationery suppliers like OfficeBox ensure you have all the office supplies you need. Contact us today to find out how we can make your workspace better.


OfficeBox Branded Stationery
David Adams
30 September 2015