Yesterday I went to the store with one major goal – to buy some boxes and containers for all that stuff we have in the bathroom, on the desks and – of course – in the playroom. I just felt so tired of the mess that makes our apartment (which is, in fact, quite small for three of us) even smaller. I gave away all the magazines I found but in 30 minutes two empty boxes were loaded again with books and my child's pencils. That made me breathe again – less things were covering tables and shelves.
But there is one zone I don't try to bring into order – my husband's desk. Never. I tried once or twice a few years ago and saw that clearness disorganizes him even more. So I thought: maybe, a mess is not always as bad as my mom told me?
And it definitely isn't if you are a child or a creative worker. If you want your children to put away the toys they are not playing, you'll hear: “I'm not done playing!”. All those toy cars and animals lying of the floor are “on hold” waiting for your son or daughter to get back to play with them. Children cannot stay focused on one task for a long time – and that's normal for their age. Moreover, forcing them to keep their room in order may even be harmful and slow down their development. The thing is that messy toys stimulate children's memory and visual thinking – otherwise how can they find that very lion or tractor?
Of course, there should be a line between mess and dirt: a child should understand that toys all around his or her room are fine but dirty dishes and dust are bad. If your boy or girl understands the importance of keeping other rooms clean, just close the door when you feel growing displeasure about a “messy” child's bedroom.
In 2013 a group of researchers from the University of Minnesota published a study which said: “Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of – creativity. Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights”. That was a conclusion from a series of experiments. And the researchers also mentioned that “many creative individuals with Nobel prizes and other ultra-prestigious awards prefer — and in fact cultivate — messy environments as an aid to their #Work”.
Of course, that won't do if you want to start a new life and acquire new habits. So if you really want to start jogging or switch to a healthier diet next Monday – clean up your space on Sunday. And even if you are currently working on a very creative project, bring your desk in order when you finish it. Researchers from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute say that permanently living in cluttered rooms distracts you and makes you unfocused which leads to frustration. And chronic mess may be a sign of depression - a reason to visit a doctor.
Mark Hurst, the author of the book “Bit Literacy”, is sure that digital chaos (such as numerous open tabs in a browser or dozens of icons on a desktop) has the same impact on your productivity. As well as a messy desk, it makes you unable to process and remember information and switch between the tasks. And that has nothing to do with creativity.