Go ahead and be messy!

Research shows there are benefits to keeping your environment messy, as well as advantages to keeping it clean. Which two do you relate to and what are those benefits?

Do you have a loved one that just can’t seem to keep their space tidy? You might even say their space is messy, chaotic or disorganized? I’m sure we all have someone in our lives that lives that way and you’re probably thinking about them right now! Would you also say that person is creative, insightful and considered an out-of-the-box thinker?

Can you also think of a person who has a place for everything and likes their items in that place while not in use? How would you describe that person? There are clear benefits and characteristics of both types of people and research can prove it!

A study titled “Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits,” led by Kathleen Vohls, conducted at the University of Minnesota and published in Psychological Science, found that:

  • Working in a clean and organized work area encourages people to do good things such as eating healthy, being generous, not engaging in crime and not littering.
  • Working in a messy environment promotes creative thinking, the stimulation of new ideas, breaking out of tradition and producing new insights.

It’s interesting to consider this research and think about how you prefer the space around you such as your home, office and vehicle. What about the kids in your life? Consider the skills youth may be gaining by allowing their environment to be cluttered, such as decision-making, resiliency, critical thinking and learning to learn. Likewise, skills youth may employ by having a cleanly environment may include self-motivation, self-discipline, healthy lifestyle choices and wise use of resources.

Learn more about life skills at the Michigan State University Extension website.

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