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Science Proves That Disorganized People Are More Creative And Productive

Science Proves That Disorganized People Are More Creative And Productive

If you are like most people, you probably imagine people who are organized are more productive compared to disorganized people. Can’t blame you for thinking that way—that’s what society has led us all to believe. But, an increasing number of experts are now saying that’s not really true.

Apparently, people who are disorganized and messy aren’t necessarily less productive or lazy. They’re just bold and more spontaneous. Actually, messy people are more imaginative. Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, explain:

“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.”

In other words, a messy desk can boost efficiency, depending on the person. A study by Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management seems to concur. According to the study, a cluttered environment helps increase not just efficiency, but also creativity.

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In one experiment for the study, Vohs divided 48 participants into two groups and asked them to come up with new ways to use a ping pong ball. One half was placed in a messy room and the other half in a tidy room. Although both groups came up with the same number of ideas, a panel of independent judges determined the ideas produced by those in the messy room were far more innovative.

Vohs explained the finding thus:

“Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries and societies want more of: Creativity. Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”

So, 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.

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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.

Physicist Adam Frank explains:

“The hard truth is that the universe itself is dead-set against our long-term efforts to bring order to the chaos in our lives. That’s because the universe loves chaos.”

That chaos, that disorder, that messiness, that randomness—for physicists, it has a name: entropy.

The laws of entropy ensure disorder is restored

Scientists first discovered the laws of entropy back in the 1800s when they were trying to squeeze as much efficiency as possible from their shiny, new invention—the steam engine. They uncovered a radical, somewhat depressing cosmic principle: The universe always moves from order to disorder, from low entropy to higher entropy. That’s how it has always been and, in all likelihood, how it will always be.

So, while you might be able to reduce chaos and maintain a semblance of order in one small space you control, like your home, the activities you do to maintain that order create more mess for the rest of the universe. For example, that trash you throw away goes to a landfill and contributes to pollution. See?

Disorganized people might get a bad rap in society and be dubbed lazy, but they are not really lazy. They’ve just seen the light and decided to go with the flow instead of swimming against the current. They would rather fill the bulk of their limited time in this world with what they perceive as more meaningful tasks for them than spend time on tedious, recurring activities like tidying up.

Maybe we should all follow their lead and say “yes” to the messiness and the chaotic nature of the universe more often, instead of being dictated by properness. As Jim Morrison once said, “I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos… It seems to me to be the road toward freedom.”

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Freedom—at last!

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.

Featured photo credit: melodramababs via flickr.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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