Why is it that we are often told that a messy room equals a messy mind? From birth we are engrained with the notion that neatness is to be praised, while disorder reprimanded. That organisation leads to success and mess is slovenly.
Contrary to popular belief, messiness is not necessarily a sign of mental disorganisation. Nor does messiness seem to preclude productivity: some of the most creative and prolific people are inveterate slobs.
The truth is that messiness might not be such a bad thing. It can actually be a sign of intelligence and efficiency for many. For those that hate cleaning and organizing, we should say “yes” to the mess more often.
There are various studies and claims that those with messier desks can often be more productive, more creative, and more inspired than others. In this article, we will cover a number of points that support this controversial concept.
Why Are We So Obsessed With Being Orderly?
From a young age, we are taught (more like coerced) to clean up our rooms and clean up after ourselves always. When we grow up, society tells us a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind. We are made to feel bad about ourselves for being disorganized or messy.
Society expects us to maintain order, in every sense of the word. Disorganized people are labeled as lazy and ill-bred. But the neat, orderly world we strive for is all an illusion. Organization is a cheat we use to fool ourselves that life isn’t the random, unstructured, chaotic mess we secretly know it to be.
Think about it for a moment. In our attempts to establish order, we often create more disorder. When you buy new shoes and new clothes for every possible occasion and season in the year so that you appear socially appropriate or fashion conscious, your closet inevitably begins to overflow.
When you tidy up your desk so that you’re not accused of having an “uncluttered mind” at work, it slides into a mess. You clear out all those pesky piles of paperwork, pens, and clips so that your desk is tidy once again, and still, two weeks later the mess is back.
We’re all struggling to keep everything neat and orderly, and we’re all doomed to fail. No matter how hard we try to keep our space neat and tidy, everything will always fall back into disarray. You see, disorder has nothing to do with your organizing skills; it’s has to do with the universe’s tendencies.
Here’s Why Messy People Are Actually More Productive
1. It’s all about freedom!
Contrary to what conventional wisdom might tell us, the path toward creative freedom, freedom of the mind, is to embrace disorder. Once you embrace disorder, it can bring spontaneity and tremendous joy and satisfaction in your life because you are now living in harmony with the universe.
You might worry that you won’t be productive at work if you are messy and unorganized, but that is not necessarily true. Disorganization is often associated with genius. Many famous people, like JK Rowling, Roald Dahl, Alan Turing, and Albert Einstein, achieved greatness in spite of their messiness. We might even argue they achieved greatness because of their messiness.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being organized. It’s just that we also need to recognize there’s nothing wrong with being disorganized either. Being disorganized is the default state. It’s a beautiful thing.
2. They Find Inspiration In The Chaos
Mark Twain was great creative mind known for his messy but highly productive workspaces. His desk was always piled with books, papers, and a seeming lack of organization. For him and many others, a cluttered desk can become a source of divine inspiration.
Those with less-than perfect environments tend to stay away from conformity and tradition, while pushing the boundaries to explore and trying new things.
3. Messy People Are More Focused
For some, a messy environment is an immediate turn-off. It can reduce their positive thinking and bring down their ability to concentrate. It can stress them out and cause their efficiency to take a dive.
But those who live and thrive in a disorganized environment are capable of tuning out all that chaos. The mess around them is little more than white noise. This means that, in general, these supposedly messy people are able to maintain more focus through more intense distractions.
- Basically, these individuals have a higher threshold of tolerance for distraction.
- If this sounds confusing, think about it like you would those who have a higher tolerance for pain.
- Someone who can’t stand clutter will become more stressed out more easily, while those who barely notice clutter will be able to do more before needing a break or getting burned out.
However, not all of them benefit directly from their messiness. Research shows that when assigned with complex tasks or puzzles, those in messy spaces gave up on problem-solving sooner than participants in an orderly room.
4. They Are More Spontaneous
It’s also believed that people with a bit of disorganization use the time that would have been spent cleaning to be spontaneous. Those with an untidy space are also known to “go with the flow” and don’t stress as much when things don’t always go as planned.
5. They Are Faster Decision Makers
Mark Zuckerberg is a particularly big dreamer and a fast mover, also known for his slightly chaotic and less-than-conventional workspaces.
Haltiwanger clears another misconception about messier individuals. He reports they are faster decision makers and can better deal with stressful situations. When they are facing tense situations, they are more likely to step up rather than go for the backdoor strategy.
This is due to the fact they are less concerned with micro details as they focus on the larger picture before making informed decisions. They have even been shown to be more adventurous and fast moving than organized people.
6. They Can Still Be Organized
Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess, believe that messy people can be just as organized (if not more organized) than clean people.
Mess isn’t necessarily the absence of order. A messy desk can be a highly effective prioritizing and accessing system.
On a messy desk, the more important, urgent work tends to stay close by and near the top of the clutter, while the safely ignorable stuff tends to get buried to the bottom or near the back, which makes perfect sense.
7. They Are More Creative
Cluttered and messy environment helps increase creativity. Individuals with disorganized minds do not think in straightforward manners. Their thought processes don’t go in straight lines. They frequently think with the right side of their brains, which is the center for creative thought.
Due to this, disorganized minds often have more unique ideas and think outside of the box. This leads to more innovation, better ideas, and thoughts that few others have had before. They form quick links between seemingly unrelated things and can see patterns easily. It’s how great inventions and discoveries are made!
8. They Devote Time And Energy More Carefully
Messy people naturally save precious time and mental energy by ignoring clutter-related issues. These people understand the cost of opportunity and don’t get caught up in routine distractions that can absorb clean freaks. Sometimes, workspace tidying can even become a form of procrastination!
For those fully focused on achieving goals or striving to reach a target, keeping a workspace tidy is often the last thing on the priority list. Like many famous painters, Francis Bacon‘s workplace may have resembled a chaotic messy, but he was merely channeling all his creative energy into making great paintings.
9. They Always Want To Learn More
Someone with a disorganized brain isn’t content with just doing one thing. They constantly want to pick up new skills in order to satisfy their brain’s desires. This means they’re always learning and developing new interests.
The result of this is that a messy person with a disorganized mind is more likely to have a lot of knowledge in many different areas. People look down on jacks of all trades, but this makes them more versatile and allows them to exercise their minds regularly.
10. They Are Occupies With Things They Genuinely Like
If you have a disorganized mind, you aren’t going to stick around doing tasks you don’t like. Admittedly, this doesn’t seem like such a great deal on the surface.
But what this means is that people with disorganized brains will only work in fields they love and will only pursue their interests. Typically, when someone really likes something, they do much better at it. As such, disorganized individuals are more likely to stick to what they enjoy and see better success in their fields.
Being messy isn’t a sign of poor intelligence. Conversely, it’s not proof of a disorganized lack of productivity. And it certainly isn’t something that anyone can judge your entire life based on.
At the end of the day, if messiness works for you, there’s nothing wrong with living chaotically in some ways. If being in the midst of untidiness stresses you out, clean up. If it doesn’t bother you and feels fine, keep going!
You don’t need to have a super neat space to be intelligent, to have positive thinking, or to prove your efficiency. It all boils down to whatever method works best for you!