Organized vs Messy: What’s your desk style?

Organized vs Messy Whats your desk style; messy desk; organized desk

A while ago, I saw this beautiful before and after post of an office-cum-creative space from the owner of A Beautiful Mess. She had done up the entire room in white, with a beautifully co-ordinated color palette and designated storage and wicker baskets for everything on a huge wall-to-wall shelf. The space looked organized and inviting. There’s also a certain feeling of calm that a predominantly white room exudes. It’s a pity that it is so impractical given how much dust and pollution we have here in Delhi.

But, I digress. After looking at those phots, I remember peeking over at my art table. At the mess of paint tubes strewn around on one end, and the other half of the desk overflowing with books and paper scraps. The husband’s study table was another tangled mess of wires with stationary thrown around haphazardly. Complete and utter chaos – that’s the only way I can describe it!

I often take comfort in the research I read a few years ago, which stated that messy desks foster creative, out-of-the-box thinking {you can read this fascinating report here}. But still, I do need to find a balance between pristine organization and a room that looks like a tornado has been through it.

my creatively messy art table

Because if I am being honest with myself, I know that I cannot work in a completely put-together room; I’ll always be afraid of messing it up and that would be the fastest way to kill my creativity and dampen my enthusiasm to throw paint around the canvas/journal. But sometimes, just looking at the chaos around me makes me want to fall in a heap in the middle of the room and cry {cue dramatic music}!

And so, balance. With that in mind, I spent the weekend attacking the chaos…err…mess on my old art table. I threw away two bags full of paper scraps and various bits and bobs I had hoarded thinking I could use them in my art journal. But seeing as those things have been lying in plain sight and not used even once, I figured they would not be used even if they were left there for all eternity! There was a whole pile of paper ephemera for collage that I sorted through and organized into clear plastic folders. A bunch of old notebooks with no useful information and a load of old pens with dried out ink that got tossed out.

art table ready to create

As I reorganized and threw away and rejigged that old art table, I suddenly realized I had more surfaces on which to work. I now have two art tables, which means that I can think of holding Studio Dates, an idea that I have been toying with since a while. Now if I can get my introverted self and my inner artist to come to some sort of arrangement, I may be able to have small creative gatherings in my studio – play dates, teaching dates, art dates, all of these become a possibility.

And all from the simple act of cleaning up an old art table.

Just so you know, my working art table is still a mess of paint tubes and papers and pencils – it is a working table, after all!

What about you? Do you have a pristine and organized workspace, a creative mess, or a balance between the two? What is your desk style? Oh, and does the idea of a Studio Date interest you?

P.S.: You can enjoy a virtual Studio Date with me right here! 😉

Posted in Art Journaling, On My Art Table and tagged .

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. I tend not to be too messy because I crave order and structure. There are days when I am exhausted that I don’t worry too much about cleaning up. But, by and large, organized and neat is my go-to space, both for creative work and otherwise. Clutter-free desk allows me to think freely too, as I have noticed.

    • And I’ve always been the opposite! I have, as I call it, an organised mess. I know exactly where things are in that mess. When I clean up, I’m constantly hunting for things. lol! And when I have a super clean and organised desk, I have a hard time creating because I only want to admire how pretty that desk is. I love how we are all so different in our approaches!!

  2. I Shinjini i’m sure your messiness fosters creativity. I like a clean work space but since I work in such a haphazard way in fits and starts, in between so many other “real” jobs my whole life is a MESS forget about my work space!. In my ideal world, I would know exactly where everything is kept in a neat orderly way ( I do try and purge and clean once a week ) but my husband who is innately tidy and always has everything in place finds me a pig 🙁

    • Yes, messiness does foster creativity for me. If only my mom would understand that. She’s super organised with a place for everything and everything in its place. My sister is like her. And till now, she’s constantly complaining about how messy my house is. I’ve given up trying to please her! And if you purge and clean once a week – hats off to you! I purge (my cupboards) once a year, if that! ? This is life goals for me – to purge regularly!!

  3. I create a big mess when I start doing my artwork. As of now I don’t have a designated spot, but hoping to get some extra space soon. You desk looks really organized and tidy. Even on a good day my spot won’t look like that.

    • I love big art messes! Please show me your art spot – I would love to see!! And I hope you get some extra space soon. Having a designated spot is so helpful if you have multiple projects on the go.

  4. I crave structure and organization, and am generally a very neat and tidy person. That being said, as the years have passed I am easier on myself and others when things aren’t always clean or picked up. Because let’s face it, they never are. However, my workspace is one thing that I always need in order to be able to get any kind of work done.

    However, I am not really a pretty/artsy kind of organizer, so no white shelves and uber zen organization systems for me. All I need is a clutter free clean space, and functional organization.

    I am glad you found your middle ground too. I really hope you do get to organizing those studio dates.

    • I’m slowly becoming better at picking up around the house. I guess as I get older, I like an orderly house more, lol! But my art space is one area where I like a creative mess. It’s inspiring for me. I guess it’s all about what works best, isn’t it?

      I am planning those studio dates. Once I can get over the anxiety I hope to have something organised!!

  5. I am some where in between. I don’t paint or do art work but my work desk is kind of balanced. I don’t like too messy and I can’t keep too organized. So it’s somewhere in between. I think studio dates would be good for those who are interested. It’s a good concept and I have seen many in Bangalore going to such dates.

  6. I love to see messy art tables, but personally, I like order. I like my table to be free of any mess. Of course, it should have all that I will be needing, all day. I need my laptop, my diary, my art book and my pouch of pencils and pens, my phone–in case someone calls–and also the book that I might like to read during a break. So, all that I might need has to be on my table, in front of me. Oh, and let me also share, sometimes, I also have my three parrots on the table, giving me company as I type/draw/read. They, however, prefer a messy table, so once they join me, all the order flies out of the window! 😀

  7. I’m an unrepentant mess. Clean and orderly makes for a nice, blank mind. Uninspired and regimented. But I can relate to your post, too – something in between is really my happy place. Chaos leads to guilt, and that’s not particularly conducive to creativity, either.

  8. My daughters say that I can take a perfectly clean room and create chaos in seconds. I guess I do, but then the clearing away and throwing things out after I have made a mess is also a lot of fun and calms me down.

  9. I’ve recently discovered that I love an organised mess. All the tools I use on a regular basis live in labelled boxes and some things have to be out on my desk, like my journal/art journal and some of my most used pens etc.

    I try to tidy up between projects but that doesn’t always work 🙂

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