From day one we have been told to be organized.
To keep our desks, or rooms and our workspaces neat and tidy. Anything otherwise was considered unappealing and needed to be tended to immediately. But why?
Well, because that’s what successful and efficient people do. They organize and keep things clean, that’s why they are so efficient and successful. People who weren’t tidy and lived in total chaos weren’t people who lived particularly effective lives because they spent so much time wondering where everything was! Right?
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota has something else to say about messiness entirely.
You may have noticed the sort of “urban legend” that portrays the creative-minded people as the messy ones. I have actually found this to be pretty accurate though I know plenty of creative people who are organized as well. However, in this particular study, it seems that messiness is not as negative as what has been constantly pounded into our heads all of our lives.
Though it may look the opposite, a person’s mess is usually pretty methodical.
They make look as if all of their stuff is out of control, but they know where everything is because the mess is theirs. Thus, they are rather in control. In this mess, people tend to be more creative instead of being stressed about where everything is, as you may have thought. Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, from the University of Minnesota, conducted a series of trials that included one messy room and one very organized room. She gathered evidence supporting that the messier room, in fact, provoked more creativity.
You may be wondering what justifies as “creative thinking” and how that could possibly be inspired by an untidy room. Well, creative thinking is what would be defined as “unconventional reasoning” which is otherwise known as thinking out of the box. So, obviously, messy places would mean things are scattered in unconventional ways, therefore promoting creativity.
Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who said “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” Coming from a man who had a desk that would probably give those with OCD an anxiety attack, but there is no denying that he was a creative genius. This is also true for Mark Twain, who thrived in his own cluttered little world proving to be one of the most imaginative human beings of his time. Furthermore, take a look at Steve Jobs. He probably created iBooks to maintain his books in real life, that were also in a total cluster.
This doesn’t mean that if you suddenly start throwing stuff around your room and office that a new idea will strike you. Creativity doesn’t just come out of thin air when it decides your space is messy enough for it’s worth. The point here is that messiness and creativity have a strong correlation. So, by organizing that desk that irritates your spouse, you may actually be curbing your own creative tendencies.
Try sitting in the chaos for a moment. Ignore the snarky comments and let your room look the way you want it to. If it helps you be who you are, then keep making messes and making art!