I've read several reports in the last few months that debates whether or not a messy desk is a better indicator of success. Most recently, this Medium post argues for having a messy desk. The author brings up examples of Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Mark Twain as key indicators of the "messy desk = success" equation. I can see the benefits of a messy desk. It show someone hard at work. Someone not "thinking in a box." Plus, the Medium post makes a convincing argument for letting organization go to the waist-side in the name of success.
Then again, there's something to be said for a clean space. Being organized means things are less likely to fall through the cracks. You know where things are and can retrieve information very quickly and efficiently. Personally, I can't start working in a messy environment. Typically, my office space stays neater than pretty much any other room in the house. A cleaned up workspace helps me focus on the task at hand and not the clutter around me. Sure, as I start working and keep working things get messy and completely out of order. That said, after I'm done with whatever I'm doing, I re-organize everything and put everything in its place when winding down.
So which really is better? I argue neither.
Having a messy workspace - or going out of your way to intentionally be messy - will not make you successful. Being neat and tidy at work isn't going to have the same results either. I think it's more of an indicator of how different people work best.
Sure, there were habits and weird traits that a lot of successful people did share. Those weren't the variables that made them put a dent in the universe. It was the work they did and the passion they put behind it. They'll go down in history for getting stuff done, not over-obsessing over the other variables like a lucky rabbit's foot.
While it's fun to learn about how different great thinkers in our past worked, it doesn't matter at the end of the day. You gotta go to work.
What about your own space preference? Messy or tightly organized?