Being organized is not synonymous to being tidy, and being intelligent is not synonymous to any of the above. If you accept these as true (and there is plenty of evidence to support such claims, both in terms of scientific reports as well as of personal experience), you may start reconsidering what the ideal daily routine is for You, depending on what kind of results you want to see in the foreseeable future.
Making that decision should be simple… A. Einstein once said, ‘ If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?’… and that should be enough evidence to put any kind of old-school values to rest when teaching the next generation of Doers.
Mind you, Albert was not the only one… From L.v. Beethoven to Steve Jobs and hundreds of others who made their mark in our world, tidiness and order were not among their priorities. Does it mean that if you are a mess, this is a clear sign of genius? Surely not.
But if you Are a genius, chances are your mind is busy figuring out more important things than your messy desk or minimalist decorum. This was what a University of Minnesota study suggested based on hard evidence, and I have no reason to refute it. One could also claim that a chaotic environment signals a departure from conventional thinking and can, therefore, help us reach new insights. This was also the conclusion of a famous psychological scientist that I will not mention here so that nobody accuses me of promoting an agenda or individuals…
Just ask yourself, operating within an orderly and tidy environment… does it encourage exploration or sticking to tradition? Does it inspire risk-taking or playing it safe? Don’t bother answering because science has responded already… Put people in either a cluttered space or a tidy space, and ask them to invent new solutions to a given problem. Although both groups will come up with a similar number of ideas, when the interviewer pushes further, the ‘messy room’ people come up with more creative and interesting notions, every time.
The key here is nothing else than… evolution. In the past, you had to go to bed early because darkness was a factor. And an early start guaranteed that under the light of the sun your efforts had better chances of meeting with success. Later on, electricity appeared… meaning that ‘smarter humans’ would adapt to the new conditions by prolonging their working hours (actively functioning hours) into late evening. Those of older generations would accuse them of procrastinating and leaving things until last minute because of laziness! In reality, the next generations had done nothing else than adopting habits created by the new environment… It might have been a world our ancestors would have no understanding of, simply because they didn’t have that choice but it is a reality that students, apprentices, start-ups and inventors embraced on their way to success.
Similarly, Tidiness was a very natural phenomenon in the earlier days because more people were poor and had less…stuff! They were also much less multitasking and usually assumed responsibilities one at a time. Adopt this mentality today, and you are dead…
Still, if you are thinking that I have a personal preference towards clutter instead of order, I will dismiss it by objectively mentioning the 2011 Princeton University study, proving that clutter can prevent you from focusing on the task at hand! It seems that the visual cortex gets overwhelmed by distractions and unnecessary data, making it harder to complete projects and shortening our concentration span. The question remains… what is the ‘mission’ in each study, and who are the participants? Are they the future visionary CEO’s and creators, or the future assistants and secretaries?
This not a derogatory comment: all these roles and many others are still relevant and will continue to be needed and appreciated in the corporate environment. The question is, what job are You applying for and whether your habits match.