Do you constantly have a messy desk? Swimming in a sea of unread emails? Have 17 different half-assed to-do lists scattered “around here somewhere”? Well, you can finally tell your nosy boss to shove it because according to science, you’re not lazy, you’re just smarter than him.
Everyone give a big round of applause to neuroscientist Robert Thatcher, who figured out that our self-proclaimed “organized chaos” is actually an indicator of our intelligence. His research focuses on the idea that intelligent, creative people don’t just have a tendency toward chaos, but they actually need it in order to succeed. Several different studies were conducted, but all led toward the same result of intelligence working through disorganization.
Research has shown that having multiple hobbies helps you to form new connections in problem-solving situations, while reading multiple things at the same time helps you to create new ideas. Is your mind wandering during a meeting? You’re probably more creative. Can’t focus on anything? You may be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Ideas need to be sloshing around or crashing in to one another to produce breakthroughs:
∙ Johnson cites research showing that the volume of ideas bouncing about make large cities disproportionately more creative than smaller towns.
∙ Having multiple hobbies allows your brain to subconsciously compare and contrast problems and solutions, forming new connections at the margins of each.
∙ Similarly, reading multiple books at the same time vs serially lets your brain juxtapose new ideas and develop new connections.
∙ Wandering minds are more creative.
∙ Studying a field “too much” doesn’t limit creativity — it does the opposite. More ideas banging about just produces even more ideas.
∙ The “accept everything” mantra of brainstorming doesn’t work. Debate is far more effective. Let those ideas fight.
∙ ADD and bipolar disorder are both associated with greater creativity. When you’re drunk or exhausted your brain is poised for breakthroughs.
∙ Even with teams, it’s better to mix up experience levels, familiarity with one another and other factors to keep things rough around the edges.
So let your workspace look like a hurricane aftermath photo, and when someone asks you about it, just tell them you’re a genius. It’s bound to go over just fine. .
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