With me it depends greatly upon what I am working on. If it is an invention or I am composing music or writing a song I prefer everything conducted with mathematical precision and to be highly organized and neat. Same if I am designing something, like a game or a set of design schematics. That’s pretty much how I work regarding business projects as well. Computer and hard files both carefully stored and organized. Desk neat.
If it is poetry,or I am writing a book or a novel, or it is artwork I’m very messy. Not disorganized, but messy. (Which are entirely different things.) I keep very careful and well organized computer files but I’ll have hundreds of notes and papers and notebook and research entries scattered about everywhere. I don’t know why that is, just the way I work. My office itself, by the way, is almost always neat and clean. My desk, drafting table, and in-office library shelves can be another matter altogether depending on what I am pursuing.
I’ve tried to be looser regarding scientific and technological and inventive work but that never works well. And I’ve tried to be better organized regarding poetry and art and writing and that doesn’t work well either. I think I either have different sub-conscious expectations in one field or another or that my mind just shifts into different work modes depending on what I’m doing.
All our lives, we’ve been told to “be organized.” Organization has always been pegged as a direct key to success.
Whether at home, school or in your bunk at camp, organization is something that has been instilled in everyone pretty much from birth. On the other hand, being messy has been equally condemned and made to be a quick path to failure. And, honestly, no rebuttal could say otherwise.
I mean, what good can come from being disorganized, right? Perhaps more than you might think. More recent studies, conducted by the University of Minnesota last year, provide us with a new side of the debate. The pro-messy one.
There has always been this sort of “urban legend” that has floated around modern society deeming people with messy desks as having a high affinity for creative reasoning.
Frankly, I initially thought that people with “messy desks” had to be creative, out of necessity, to survive outside the boundaries of organization.
Last week’s take home test, still undone, in one corner. A page from last month’s Playboy ripped out and crumpled next to the bottle of cocoa butter in the other. Empty Arizona cans distributed across the surface, like a battlefield.
Your desk is a mess. Then again, it’s your mess, and thus, it feels very in-control. When you habitually fail to put things in their designated place, you’re bound to get creative figuring out ways to make everything, I don’t know, fit. And fit comfortably.
While it might look completely random to strangers, a lot of times, a person’s mess is very methodical – with respect to himself.
Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, from the University of Minnesota, who set out to debunk this urban legend, didn’t confine her study to solely the desk. No, Vohs, clearly a creative mind, chose to think outside the desk. She just sounds messy. The creative kind of messy.
Using a paradigm consisting of one messy room and one tidy room, and a series of trials, Vohs concluded that messy rooms provoke more creative thinking – and provided scientific evidence!
The next question is, what exactly constitutes “creative thinking,” and how will your pig sty of a room help?
Creative thinking, in its purest form, is thinking outside the lines of “conventional” reasoning. When considering this, it should be no huge shock that messy rooms containing possessions misplaced from their “conventional” locations would promote creativity.
I suppose if you prefer to “lay,” and I use that term very loosely, your clean clothes on the floor of your bedroom, when the empty dresser is only a few feet away – you’re certainly thinking outside the lines of conventional reasoning. And that same concept could be applied to more abstract conception.
Consider this from Albert Einstein, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”