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Messy Environment Can Breed Creativity And Productivity

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Messy Environment Can Breed Creativity And Productivity

“A cluttered room is a cluttered mind.”

This sounds like something a mom would say as she wags her finger at her child’s bedroom. It’s four in the afternoon, and there’re more books and laundry on the floor than there are filed alphabetically on the shelf or hanging in the closet. The remote is long gone and if it weren’t for Find My Phone, that iPhone would be lost for good, too. Is neatness the equivalent of productivity? Sure, it is. But it isn’t the only equivalent.

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There’s order to the chaos

Oftentimes, someone living in a messy apartment or has a pile mounting on their desk will have a little voice echo in their heads saying, “I should clean my room.” It sounds like a great idea. Cleaning can be a great way to release some tension, stress, and ultimately, increase pleasant endorphins that may lead to even more productivity. But that’s when the problem comes up – where did I put that book? Or, I can’t find that letter, and where in the world did I put my wallet? Trying to find things that typically are not put in a specific place is like trying to find Carmen Sandiego – a long journey in futility.

Cleaning a mess takes time

When you’re a creative person, you might not have time to clean and organize everything. A creative spends much of their time doing just that: being creative. Neatness certainly has its benefits, but it also has its cons. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Eric Abrahamson, co-author of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, argued that “there’s an optimal level of mess and disorder. Since people think order is good they tend to overinvest in it. If you spend 20 hours cleaning up your desk, are you going to get 20 hours back of greater efficiency? If you don’t, maybe you only spend five hours and you get it to a decent state and that’s when you’re going to get a return.”

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It’s not about being lazy

For creative people, it is not an issue of being lazy. Where someone puts their things is just a flicker in a moment in time. As random as it may seem to put your headphones on top of the microwave, that person is much more likely to remember where they put something last as opposed to where it’s always supposed to be. Who needs a bowl for keys by the door when they can just keep it in the pair of jeans they typically wear? Just remember to take the keys out from those jeans when you decide to wear your trousers or that sundress (whoo, pockets!) if you don’t want to be locked out of your messy apartment.

There’s organization in the mess, and it’s tied to our memory and the proximity of things. Abrahamson goes further into detail in his book, claiming that, “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.”

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Neatness is great, but…

Neatness does have its conventions. It promotes positive social behavior, according to a report by Kathleen Vohs, a psychological scientist at University of Michigan. Her studies, published in Psychological Science (a journal for the Association for Psychological Science), dig deep into past research. “Prior work has found that a clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity.” However, her conclusions are not without comparisons to the messy types. She explains that “disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”

Trying to find a place for all the material things in life is already taxing enough when you don’t even know where you belong in the world. Using a chaotic environment as a muse is a viable way to encourage creativity, free-thinking, and new ideas. Who knows, that pile of blouses could be the sight you need to cue inspiration for another painting to add to the collection already hanging on your walls.

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Kyle Hiller

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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How to Use Travel Time Effectively

Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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1. Take Your Time Getting There

As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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2. Go Gadget-Free

This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

3. Reflect and Prepare

Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

Conclusion

Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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