Often in life, we try our best to figure out how to tame our inbox, we spend hours filling in questionnaires on dating websites hoping to find our perfect match, or take our kids to the local playground instead of letting them run loose in the neighborhood.
We operate our daily life in a way to create a world that is well ordered, systemised, quantified and neatly structured. We surrender to the temptation of a tidy-minded approach in the belief that it will make our life better.
But did you know that the way you’ve been operating on a daily basis all but ensures that you are not ready to deal with the challenges that life throws at you in creative and novel ways?
We’ve grown up in a world that is transitioning from the Industrial Revolution. Most of what we do on a day-to-day basis – work rigid hours at our workplace, keeping our workspace neat and tidy, and doing things as efficiently as possible – was designed for an era that has long since left us.
When you are optimising for efficiency, this makes sense. But when you are optimising for effectiveness, where we are called upon to deliver creative solutions to whatever problem shows up today, keeping everything in your life in order actually hinders your performance because you are less likely to adapt and improvise.
The virtues of the messy—the untidy, unquantified, uncoordinated, improvised, imperfect, incoherent, crude, cluttered, random, ambiguous, vague, difficult, diverse, or even dirty – are what we need in order to become masters of creative solutions.
There is a time and place for both efficiency and effectiveness, but you should recognise the difference and engineer your environment (which includes everything in your life) so that you are getting the results you need, when you need them. Author Tim Harford believes that the foundation for success is often messiness.