Thursday, May 19, 2016

Organized Life, Organized Body, Organized Mind?

 I possess none of the above.

Throughout my life I have tried to be neat and organized, to declutter and simplify. I make some progress, but quickly regress.

I clean closets, but they transform almost immediately into messy, clutter-filled space.

I shred papers, file documents, and order reigns. Unfortunately I blink and piles reappear all around me.

Is disorderliness a bad thing?

There are competing theories about organization vs. disorganization, clutter vs. declutter.

One school of thought declares disorganization, clutter, and general messiness leads to a muddled and chaotic life, and therefore nothing gets done.

Another school of thought states messiness suggests activity and creativity.

Obviously I am partial to the latter theory because I am not an organized, orderly person. I lean chaotic, the gene probably imbedded in my DNA.

I am not alone. Minds far wiser and brainier than mine are partial to the belief that from disarray arise good things. Albert Einstein, for one, is on my side:

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

Other famous individuals successful in a messy environment include Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.

I am not making excuses. Science backs up the thesis that messiness encourages creativity. Psychologists tested peoples’ responses in a neat atmosphere and a disheveled room. The untidy place produced more creative reactions than the neat space.

An emphasis on order may be misdirected and overrated.

On the other hand studies have shown that people endowed with ‘innate conscientiousness’, defined as organized and conventional, usually eat better and live longer than people who are sloppy. They also tend to have immaculate offices, and by extension neat homes, unless they live with a messy person and can tolerate the disorder.

So what does all this mean?

I have decided to accept my messiness and my procrastination when it comes to decluttering and organizing – files, closets, kitchen cabinets, etc. I will in the future revel in my chaos and confusion and not be frustrated when unable to locate whatever it is I am looking for. Who knows what creative masterpieces may flow forth from my mind. I would never want to inhibit my imagination or productivity.

My disorder, however, does not extend to cleaning. I have a habit of putting off cleaning my house, but at some point take a deep breath and dig in (metaphorically speaking).

My mess is a dustless mess.

Just don’t look under the furniture. 

20 comments:

  1. I think I have a creative side but I cannot function in a messy environment. However I don't necessarily equate neatness with organization. I have a friend whose piles of stuff everywhere make me anxious, but she knows where every scrap of random paper she jotted some important note on can be found in a heartbeat. Want a recipe from a six year old magazine in the piles of magazines under her bed? Wait a second, she'll get it. i would not be able to sleep in a bed with anything stored under it--or with six year old magazines around the house for that matter--but it works for her.

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    1. My Mom is the same way as your friend - piles of papers and books everywhere, but organized piles. The only way I can find stuff is to get rid of the old and make room for the new. I just do not do it often enough!

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  2. I like Einstein's quote. My mind is full... and my desk is messy. But this is at home. When I worked, my desk was organized and neat. Here at home, my creativity flows (or I would like to think that). However, once or twice a year I get that de-clutter bug and what spurs me on is that I don't want my kids to have to deal with my *stuff*. Heaven forbid, something should happen, I would like there to be some order to the chaos. Don't know if that makes sense... but it is what it is.

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    Replies
    1. I understand your concern about your kids. My Mom sold her house after living there for almost 50 years. Clearing out the house was a never-ending process...My work desk was also fairly neat because my boss made me clean it at the end of each day. That was sometimes the hardest part of my day!

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  3. I worked in law offices for many, many years. When I saw an attorney's desk that was completely covered with papers, no wood showing, I had to doubt his ability. Now I know that a lot of the time it was the secretary that kept his desk organized. But I just felt like I wouldn't want him to represent me because he might not be able to focus on my case.

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    Replies
    1. You make a very good point. The disorganized person makes a poor impression on prospective clients/customers.

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  4. When I was working, I was the one who organized my boss' desk. He never knew where anything was, and he was (is) one of the most creative people I've ever met. On the other hand, I am now living in a home that has piles of disorganized papers. Fortunately, I have a husband who sorts through them and throws away the old stuff. My secretary, but don't tell him that! :-)

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    1. I could use a secretary, but unfortunately my hub is worse than I am!

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  5. Love those pluses for being messy. Oddly my work was always orderly but my home a mess. Guess I can' only tighten up for so long.

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    1. I figure since my home is my castle, it can be as messy as I want it to be, as long as I can tolerate it.

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  6. I am definitely a messy desk type... but I come by it honestly. My mother used to keep this frame quote on her desk at work: Those who keep their desk neat will never know the joy of finding something important they thought had been irretrievably lost. Yep.

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  7. I love the self-acceptance focus of this. Plus you used actual research to tell your story. Very impressive. Thank you for the chuckle and the food for thought.

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    1. So glad you liked the post. Thank you!

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  8. I'm getting tired of hunting through stacks of stuff on my desk to find something I need. So I'm creating folders and reducing the unsorted stacks. But I've worked this way for decades--often with a new set of folders but never with a system that actually lasts. Sigh.

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    Replies
    1. I hear you. I enjoy buying new folders and attempting to organize...but, like you, it never lasts.

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  9. Ive had to have considerable organization for years in my live so enjoy times when the opposite takes over. In the years since my husband's death I've gone too far in the disorganized area so must correct -- maybe tomorrow.

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  10. I am the Felix Unger around here. David has become neater from knowing me. His mother was a White Russian refugee aristocrat who grew up with servants. She also was an alcoholic and kept an untidy house. He grew up in squallor as a result.

    He has his messy space, his bedroom, although I get after him to clean it every few weeks and he does...mostly.

    Dust leads me to have allergy problems, which I never had until I live with him. I learned to keep my house clan because I had a daughter with asthma. Seeing a six-year old on an intravenous drip will make you straighten up very quickly.

    Cluttering and hoarding are mental problems.

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