I confess that I am by nature a messy. However, I am also highly productive. Being messy and productive is like having two beasts at war within. You see, I love to take on lots of creative challenges which can lead to jumping from one thing to the next. And jumping creates a messiness; messy drawers, messy closets, messy desk, messy car, messy purse… An overall disorganization can set in that creates a huge roadblock to my productivity. It took time, but I had to learn (and am still learning) how to find a messy balance.
In Defense of Creative Messies
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Apparently Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Mark Twain all had very messy desks. Messiness is a sign of creativity! Several studies, including by the University of Minnesota found that messy people are more prone to be creative and risk-takers, people who are neater tend to follow rules and are more likely to avoid new things and risks. They concluded that disorderly environments seem to inspire fresh insights. I am disorderly! But in defense of the messies, it is not always bad to be messy. If you or even your child, suffer from the tendency to be messy–celebrate you are a gifted creative.
Do you feel affirmed? I want you to feel the messy benefits before I start addressing how to improve toward less messiness 🙂
In Defense of Productivity
The problem, my problem, in particular, is that I creatively overload without organizing as I go. Sometimes I think I am Superwoman and can do it all. If I were Superwoman being unorganized would not be a problem because Superwoman can see through the stacks of clutter with X-ray eyes, therefore, messy is not a problem for her. For me, messy becomes a problem because I can’t find anything and it slows down productivity. And I get frustrated. And then I get cranky and short. And then it affects my family–the very people I am trying to be productive for.
At this moment, I am sitting at a messy desk, writing a blog, then I have 2 meetings back to back, then at noon I have to race home to make dinner for a friend who is getting out of the hospital. At 2:oo, I leave for Gainesville for the night to take my son out for his 21st birthday. I still need to write his card and wrap his presents. For big creativity, I am working on 2 book projects and planning my oldest daughters wedding with only 5 months to go. Last night, I made 6 apple pies and froze them for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Can you guess what my kitchen looks like? My desk at work and at home? I am nearing the messy tipping point.
Finding the Balance Between Creativity and Productivity
Studies show that when you’re generating ideas and concepts, it actually can help to be messy. However, when you’re trying to be productive or getting a specific project out of the creative stage to the completion phase, cleaning your desk will increase your productivity. I believe this concept transfers from the desk to the home. Foundational home organization will help you to be both creative and productive. I have learned that when the foundation of my house is organized–the kitchen, garage, laundry room, drawers, cupboards and closets–I can allow some creative mess on tables and desks without getting frustrated and unproductive. It takes a little structured planning, organizing is an uncreative discipline that I don’t like. However, it is worth it. For me, it is the key to a messy balance between creativity and productivity.
What is your key?