I'm a messy desk sort of person (even the desktops on my computers are messy). But there are loads of personal productivity evangelists telling me that a tidy desk would make me more productive.
Here, for example, is one such site which says:
the simple act of a weekly review or a de-cluttering session clears the decks mentally as well as physically, leaving us amazed at the heighten levels of focus we’re actually able to achieve.
This site even thinks a messy desk makes you sick:
Did you know that a messy desk can actually make you sick? In a survey carried out years ago, researchers at NEC-Mitsubishi questioned 2000 workers and found that many suffered from “Irritable Desk Syndrome” (IDS). IDS is caused by working for long periods of time at a messy desk, often with poor posture, the combination of which can have physical and mental symptoms such as chronic pain and a decrease in productivity.
I have an apparently very productive friend who, when challenged by his boss in his annual review about his messy desk, claimed to have searched and found evidence that messy was better. He didn't tell me where. So my question is: is there any hard evidence that tidy desks are better than messy desks for personal productivity (or is it the other way round)?