10 Messy Desks of Successful People

We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s famous quote about a messy desk (see below).  He was getting at the fact that people with clean desks have just that, a clean desk.  They aren’t knee deep in work, they don’t have a plethora of projects happening all at once, and they don’t even do any work!  The wheels just aren’t turning.  At least, it could be seen that way.

The real truth is that different types of desks produce different results.

In a study by University of Minnesota researchers Kathleen D. Vohs, Joseph P. Redden and Ryan Rahinel, they determined that “order and disorder are prevalent in both nature and culture, which suggests that each environment confers advantages for different outcomes.”  That quote appeared in their abstract which was titled Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity.

So basically if you are looking for an organized and healthy work environment then by all means keep your desk in order, but if creativity and a free-spirited workspace is more important, then let the clutter run rampant!

That’s why there are so many successful people with messy desks.  You’ll notice this list of famous successful people’s messy desks is full of creative types, innovators and rule breakers.

Are you one of the creatives with a messy desk?  Or do you prefer neat and tidy order?  Which helps you produce better results?  Let us know what your desk looks like in the comments below!

Albert Einstein's Desk

Albert Einstein

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



Steve Jobs Desk

Steve Jobs

/ Apple

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”



Mark Twain Desk

Mark Twain

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”



mark zuckerberg office

Mark Zuckerberg

/ Facebook

“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”




John Abell

/ Reuters

John is the co-founder of Reuters.



herb greenberg cnbc

Herb Greenberg


Herb Greenberg is the editor of Herb Greenberg’s Reality Check, a subscription newsletter designed to help investors better manage risk.



steve ballmer microsoft desk

Steve Ballmer

/ Microsoft

“Accessible design is good design.”



dennis crowley foursquare desk

Dennis Crowley

/ FourSquare

“I learned early on not to feel badly about reaching out for help, and not to feel embarrassed about saying that you’re in over your head.”



Max Levchin PayPal

Max Levchin

/ PayPal

“The world is now awash in data and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways.”




tony hsieh zappos desk

Tony Hsieh

/ Zappos

“For me, my role is about unleashing what people already have inside them that is maybe suppressed in most work environments.”