Messy People Are Basically Productive, Imaginative Geniuses

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messy woman

When we were just kids, we were led to believe by society that a messy room equals a messy mind. To put it simply: Clean your room or you're grounded.

I confess I'm a bit of a neat freak, but only because dust triggers my allergies. And I like organizing my things because I have the unfortunate habit of forgetting where I put my things. But, at the same time, I have no patience for cleaning or organizing when I don't need to, which was enough to get me in trouble because of my "dirty room" as a teen.

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But John Haltiwanger believes that messy people are wrongfully accused of being lazy. A chaotic workspace, according to him, doesn't equal a chaotic mind.

"We live in a very formulaic and predictable world ... Society perpetually seeks to maintain order, in every sense of the word," he said. "But it's all an illusion."

So, if you're a messy person who faces many shaking heads and judgmental looks, here are three things to remember about why it's OK to be disorganized.

Here are a few reasons why messy people are basically productive, imaginative geniuses.

1. You're not concerned with the status quo.

Haltiwanger believes that being neat and organized can be necessary and even beautiful. However, people should also learn to embrace chaos, because nothing stays neat and tidy. Everything goes back in disarray later on.

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"Disorganized people have seen the light. They won't allow their lives to be dictated by propriety and convention," he said.

2. You find inspiration in mess.

Did you know that a lot of famous and successful people were messy? Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, and even the great genius Albert Einstein.

In A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, authors Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman say, "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."

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At the same time, a study by Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management found that a cluttered environment helps increase creativity.

"Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights," she said. "Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe."

3. You're brave and spontaneous.

"They go with the flow instead of swimming against the current," said Haltiwanger.

Instead of worrying about minute details, messy people tend to focus on the big picture. They would rather focus all of their time and attention on the important task at hand than worry about other things. According to Haltiwanger, this makes them more adventurous and willing to take a leap, as opposed to organized people.

There's nothing wrong with organization, but there's nothing wrong with chaos either. Allow your messy environment to inspire you and try not to worry about cleaning it up now. Still, it's important to maintain a balance between organization and chaos.

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"There is simplicity and beauty in living a messy life, which is precisely why it produces such enlightened and innovative individuals," he said.

Caithlin Pena is a writer/editor for YourTango. She enjoys books, movies, and music and writes fictional short stories as a hobby.

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