Embrace the Mess: The Upside of Disorder


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 30, 2023

3 min read


Embrace the Mess: The Upside of Disorder

We live in a society that values order and organization. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us to clean up, declutter, and create a tidy and neat environment. But what if there is another side to this story? What if disorder and messiness could actually be beneficial?

In his article, Farnam Street explores the idea that disorder can have its advantages. He challenges the assumption that being organized and tidy is always the best approach. Sometimes, embracing a degree of mess can actually serve us better.

One interesting study mentioned in the article found that people who relied on folders to organize their emails actually took longer to find what they were looking for. On the other hand, those who simply dumped all their emails into an "archive" folder were able to locate their emails more quickly. This suggests that a pragmatic system of organization, based on the fact that the most useful stuff rises to the top, can be just as effective, if not more so, than a meticulously structured system.

But what about creativity? Can messiness enhance our creative thinking? The article suggests that creativity may systematically benefit from a certain amount of disorder. Messy disruptions can be powerful, especially when combined with creative skill. The enemy of creative work is boredom, and the friend is alertness. When faced with a situation that is beyond our control, we become more alert, more engaged, and more excited. This type of alertness can lead to breakthroughs and innovative ideas.

This idea is exemplified by the work of Rhizomatiks, a research institution that focuses on the exploration of new possibilities in technology and expression. They embrace a certain level of disorder in their research and development projects, constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. By straddling the worlds of art and entertainment, Rhizomatiks creates cutting-edge works that challenge traditional notions of organization and order.

So, what can we take away from all of this? How can we apply these insights to our own lives? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace a degree of messiness: Instead of constantly striving for a perfectly organized and tidy environment, allow yourself some room for messiness. Don't be afraid to let things be a little chaotic at times. It may actually enhance your productivity and creativity.
  • 2. Be open to disruptions: Instead of resisting disruptions, embrace them. When faced with a situation that is beyond your control, stay alert and engaged. These disruptions can lead to new ideas and breakthroughs.
  • 3. Combine messiness with skill: Messiness alone may not be enough to boost creativity. It is important to combine it with skill and expertise. Develop your creative abilities and then allow the messiness to work its magic.

In conclusion, disorder and messiness can have their advantages. While it is important to maintain some level of order and organization in our lives, we should also be open to embracing a degree of mess. It can enhance our productivity, creativity, and overall alertness. So, let go of the need for perfect order and allow a little chaos into your life. You may be surprised by the positive outcomes it brings.

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