Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Perfect Mess

I am in turmoil. My other half has just cleaned the office, thus affecting all of the positive creative energy within the room, which I use to feed off and come up with all of my wonderful, world-changing ideas. As he faffed and put-away, I felt myself getting more anxious. I need that magazine there, and leave that bit of paper so I know where it is and yes, I do need that receipt. ARGH!

The (intelligent) git has just pointed out the paradox of the situation: that by cleaning and "ruining my creative environment" he's just given me something to write about in this blog.

What a bastard.

We have a "shared" office space. It's not equally shared, it is more mine than his. He only works from home once a month for a week, whereas I am here all of the time and even the week that he does work from home, he only uses it in the evenings when a work related call comes through. Essentially, it is my office and in my office I like a certain amount of organised mess. It's nothing OTT, it's not like I have coffee cups piled high or newspaper clippings everywhere. It's more just a few magazines dotted about the place that I haven't got round to putting away, or am constantly referring to in the week that I have a deadline, and the several notepads - each assigned a different feature - that I need to have on the desk at all times until my deadline for said feature has been met.

To the untrained eye, it may look messy, but it's organised mess and there's actually some positive research about organised mess.

Take this 2012 study for example, where a group of two students we're placed in two different rooms: one insanely neat and the other with a bit of chaos. Asking the students to dream up new uses for ping pong balls, the ones in the messy room came up with much more imaginative uses (and no, I'm sure none of them had anything to do with popping out of body parts). Just one example that mess equals creativity.

Or this book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. It argues that too much neat encroaches on productive time. "If you devote all your time to organizing, you won’t get anything done. If you don’t spend any time organizing, the resultant mess bogs you down completely. When you find the ‘sweet spot’ between messiness and order, then you have a perfect mess," explained Eric Abrahamson, one of the book's authors. That's what I have...sorry, had! A perfect mess.

Tomorrow could have been the day that I sit in my organised messy office and dream up my blockbuster novel. I guess now we will never know!

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