I need a robot to clean up my scattered mess – or not: The psychology of a messy free mind



I need a robot to clean up my scattered mess – or not: The psychology of a messy free mind



always love with wildness

always love with wildness

Without any doubt in anyone’s mind I am an extremely messy person. I take immense pride in that messiness. The messier the better in my view and that of researchers. This past year, yet another study (Vohs, 2013) found   that people with messier desks are more oriented towards creativity and risk taking,  as opposed to those with the nice neat desks. Those neat people tend to me more oriented towards adhering to strict rules and are less likely to take risks.  Mess is best for a healthy lively mind. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.


When I see a clean desk I think “what a waste of a beautiful mind”.  I also think, perhaps that “person is a serial killer.”   Just kidding. I pass a neat desk I have to fight really hard to just go ahead and eat at their desk and leave my corn pops fall where they may.   Yes, I walk around the office with a giant box of corn pops. Makes it easier for people to find me that way if they follow the corn pop trail. Perhaps that is a bad thing as I actually do not want to be found in the office. Hmm. I must rethink this a tad bit.



If you hadn’t noticed, my thoughts are messy as well. I love a good ramble.  Although, let me restate that. I love to give a good ramble. When others ramble my eyes roll deep within my socket.  Sorry, I know that is probably not cool.  I think I have only enough tolerance for my own rambles. When I start writing a scientific article, by the end of the process my introduction ends up being my conclusion. I can’t stick to an outline. I hate outlines. I like to see where the words take me. There is a story always waiting to come out and stifling that process with a clear outline is just akin to putting up police blocks on your way to a fruitful and fun destination.   Do as the Vines urge and “Get Free”.



Mess and disorder is a form of abstract beauty.  A messy desk, office and floor are like a Jackson Pollack painting.  You just have to throw random brushes of colorful thoughts onto the areas surrounding you and see what emits rays of inspiration.



Occasionally, I get these weird thoughts that lead me to believe I need to clean up. It is not just picking up the water bottles, clothes and papers from my home office floor.  I get these weird thoughts about organizing things into folders or themes or file cabinets.  I get inspired and think I can create an innovative new system of order.


The first hour I am excited about the idea and do a few things here and there.  I namely take more things out and lay them out about the floor. The second hour I start to realize this may be a year-long project and start scrunching up my nose and pursing my lips. By the third hour I have called in for backup.  I realize that the project was not meant to be. There is no sense in putting order to disorder for it only creates worse disorder. Have you ever cleaned things up and put things in “obvious” places to only come to realize later on you can’t find anything anymore? Of course you have. Disorder is order.


I remember watching a few episodes of the television carton The Jetsons which was set  in the year 2062 where technology reigned supreme and made life easier. There was a robot for everything. We all thought that would be the coolest life. The Jetsons had a robot for a maid named Rosie who acted more like a parent and caregiver than just a housecleaner.  In the world of vast technology they didn’t need something to tidy up the rooms. What needed more was someone to tend to the heart of things.  I think there is a lesson in there somewhere. Anyway, off of that ramble. Yes, be free of constraints.  Don’t fret the  mess.


There is one caveat to this all. If you live in New York City do not keep old food, coffee and dirt around. papers with those characteristics shouldn’t be lying around either for too long.  New York City rats are no joke and they will eat away at your creativity.


Take that as a metaphor in whichever way you want.




A Monkey in Panama

A Monkey in Panama











10 replies »

  1. Huzzah for messiness.

    My favorite messiness story was when I was in college and lived in my parents basement. At one point I was doing a lot of long proofs that required pages and pages of loose leaf paper. When the proofs failed I would just toss them on the floor. Which was all great until one day I heard a rustling sound in the room. I couldn’t figure out where it came from and so ignored it. Then some more rustling. I was determined to find it and started sifting through the proof papers on the floor. I shouldn’t have done that. Eventually I lifted up a piece of paper and saw this salamander staring at me. I shrieked and jumped and ran out of the basement. I had to get my brother to take care of it.

    Oh, was I rambling on. Sorry about that.


  2. In the immortal words of my old college roommate: “I’d rather pile than file.” When it comes to organizing, these are the words I have chosen to live by. I think that way the mess doesn’t look quite as messy and it makes me feel like I’ve done at least a little organizing. Just don’t ask me how long the piles last, OK?


  3. I think I’m possibly an anomaly, Mimi. I’m messy, but I’m not too big of a risk-taker in most ways. I will stand up to bullies, racists, misogynists, and the like, but in most ways, I’m pretty shy. I won’t ramble about my messy ways, but you’d never catch me, say, skydiving or surfing big waves. I possibly have too many fears (which is a machine/conduit for creativity, too, let me say) … “the human heart in conflict with itself” is what’s worth writing about, as Faulkner said.


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