2013-08-21 / Loose Ends

Loose Ends

The virtues of clutter
Susan Nienow

I should write a thank you note to the team of researchers at the University of Minnesota that has found that people with messy desks have some good qualities – mainly creativity.

Conventional wisdom had always assumed that we were ineffective due to a lack of organization.

I skipped over the other qualities they identified such as being less likely to contribute to worthy causes or to choose healthy food over sweets if I live in clutter.

Actually I don’t live in a cluttered environment. I live with an “everything has its place” person. It is such a part of his inner self that if I leave something of mine out on the counter, he will put it back where it was before that, assuming (usually incorrectly) that it belongs there.

But my desk, that’s beyond his scope. He has learned to not make suggestions, move anything or say anything negative about it. Occasionally I will misplace something, but if I thought it was on my desk, it usually is. I just missed it the first time through.

My phone often goes missing on my desk. Hardly anyone calls me so I have to have my other half give me a call. He goes in the bedroom, and I stand in my office listening for the ring. Rarely do I find it anywhere else unless it is in the car. I don’t have to do this for him.

I am working on beading a bracelet, a pair of earrings and a necklace – not matching. All of the related beads and tools are somewhere on my desk. There’s also a set of hand weights sitting out in the open as a reminder to use them.

I am preparing a gardening talk so I have several books, magazines and printouts on the desk. I am also working on an expense account report for a part-time job and am ready to polish my nails. Finishing one thing before starting another is not a rule I adhere to.

I keep my coffee, iced tea and water glasses away from the computer on the other end of my desk. And no sweet drinks – I really don’t want to deal with sticky. It is hard to be creative and sticky at the same time.

This all has to do with my aversion to a straight line – except when I am painting. That means painting a room, not a piece of art. I really like curves and squiggles, shoes in a heap and some of my shirts on hangers and some folded on a shelf. They are not organized by color.

I tell my other half it is a matter of values. I value the hunt, the mixed colors, textures and angles of things on my desk, and reading magazines from back to front. According to this study, clutter may be an indication of taking less-traditional paths.

In other words if there is a logical way to do things, I will do it another way. Just ask my other half. He knows logic. I took one day of a logic course in college and didn’t understand the first assignment. I dropped it the next day.

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