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Messy People Have More Creative And Productive Minds, Science Says

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Messy People Have More Creative And Productive Minds, Science Says

Many of us follow the ideology that seemingly chaotic or unorganized individuals do not perform well. Thus, we are encouraged to keep our workplace or desk organized, with an expectation of delivering better results. However, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge an unmanaged desk or workplace when it comes to creativity or productivity.

In fact, 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.

They Have Mastered The Art Of Prioritization

Messy people may appear careless or unorganized but they are often masters in the art of prioritization. They often place the most important things first while lesser aspects are temporarily left behind.

While it may appear beneficial to keep everything perfectly organized, for messy people it’s merely a hindrance when dealing with the task at hand.

Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, summarize this notion perfectly:

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“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.”

They Can Find Inspiration In The “Chaos”

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    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.

    A study conducted by a Kathleen Vohs from the University of Minnesota at Carlson School of Management suggests that a cluttered environment helps in increasing creativity. She said:

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    “The creative people feel free from the limitations in messy and disorderly environments. It helps them to break the traditions and produce new insights. On the opposite side, orderly environments which resemble safe and conventional zones encourage more routine and safe work practices.”

    They Are Often Braver And Faster Decision Makers

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      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.

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      They Have Proved To Be Highly Innovative Thinkers

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        “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” — Albert Einstein

        Did you know that the famous scientific genius Albert Einstein was actually quite messy a messy person? His desk was always full of seemingly disorganized papers, articles, and scrawls, yet no one could dare challenge him in the field of science. While he managed things in his own seemingly messy way, he was always able to find everything he needed.

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          Steve Jobs would most certainly be considered a creative genius, revolutionizing the mobile technology industry from a messy desk!

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          They Devote Time And Energy More Carefully

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            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.

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            Last Updated on October 21, 2021

            How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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            How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

            Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

            Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

            The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

            Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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            Program Your Own Algorithms

            Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

            Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

            By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

            How to Form a Ritual

            I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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            Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

            1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
            2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
            3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
            4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

            Ways to Use a Ritual

            Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

            1. Waking Up

            Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

            2. Web Usage

            How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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            3. Reading

            How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

            4. Friendliness

            Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

            5. Working

            One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

            6. Going to the gym

            If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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            7. Exercise

            Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

            8. Sleeping

            Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

            8. Weekly Reviews

            The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

            Final Thoughts

            We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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            Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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