Is Being Messy Hurting You?

I have always been a disorganized person. I rarely felt guilty about it and I never thought that being disorganized would have any negative impact on my life. Occasionally, about once a year, I would hunker down and go through The Great Purge. I would get rid of as many things that I felt I could part with, and I would try to find places to store everything else. I would often get lazy and end up stuffing all kinds of junk in my closet, or under my bed. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then about 35 years later I had a conversation with my wife about the value of tidiness. She is incredibly neat. If she was the type of person to get a tattoo it would read, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” She asked me why I was so messy. My answer was that I didn’t see any value in it. In hindsight I should have chosen better words, because she obviously saw plenty of value in being organized and I inadvertently challenged something she believed in. But it made for an interesting discussion. In the end, I didn’t change my mind.

Yesterday we were chatting and I was explaining how sometimes there were so many thoughts running through my mind that I just couldn’t focus on the task at hand. My mind was cluttered. As soon I uttered those words the lightbulb went off. Those thoughts that pop into my head are the equivalent of all the various papers and post-its and clutter on my desk, or the random notifications on my phone. They distract me for a split second, and then I entertain that thought and lose focus. I waste time on jumping from thought to thought, using the excuse that I’m learning something new, or I’m helping someone out. But in reality I’m taking the easy road by letting myself become distracted instead of putting deep thought into the task at hand.

A cluttered environment is the physical manifestation of a cluttered mind.

I’m now starting to rethink what value I place on being organized. If I’m doing OK now as a disorganized person, how much better would I be if I were more organized? How much more efficient will I be, how much more productive? And will that translate to feelings of happiness, calmness, and having more focus. Well, I’m about to find out.

What value do you place on being organized, and tidy? Have any of you gone through the metamorphosis and did it change your life?

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