The Cluttered Mind: The High Intelligence and Creativity of the Chronically Disorganized
For most people, clutter is a nuisance that can lead to lost items, tardiness, and an overall sense of chaos. But for some individuals, clutter is a way of life – a constant companion that follows them wherever they go, whether it’s in their personal space or their mind. These individuals are often labeled as chronically disorganized, and while their cluttered lives may draw criticism and negative attention, research has shown that they may also possess higher intelligence and greater creativity.
The chronically disorganized individual may struggle to find their car keys or cell phone, find themselves going in the wrong direction when driving, or have a messy workspace where nothing is ever “where it’s supposed to be.” Psychologists classify these individuals as being chronically disorganized, a condition that affects their daily life and can lead to difficulty with planning, time management, and decision-making.
However, what researchers have discovered in recent years is that those who are chronically disorganized often have higher verbal IQ scores, and their creativity levels are higher than average. They are drawn to a broad range of interests and have developed strong attachments to people and things that may seem unrelated to others. Their brains process information through their right brain hemispheres which are associated with creativity and novel ideas.
While these characteristics may seem like disadvantages in traditional environments, they are proving to be advantageous in a society where creativity and innovation are highly valued. Here are 12 facts that demonstrate the high level of intellectual functioning of the chronically disorganized:
1. They Score High on Verbal IQ Tests
Researchers have found that disorganized individuals tend to test well in the verbal range, which is related to areas of the brain that promote ideas, curiosity, and creative thinking. Their ability to come up with unique solutions makes them not tied to the norms of current knowledge and traditional methods of doing things.
2. They Have High Creativity Levels
Disorganized individuals show high scores in storytelling, unusual visualizations, humor, breaking normal boundaries, thinking “outside the box,” and a richness in the images they create in their minds. The individuals who score high are most often those who have ideas for new products and services, who invent.
3. They Have a Broad Range of Interests
Disorganized people thrive on variety, love new experiences and challenges. They may be involved in regular jobs, but they are always doing other things on the side, such as taking art classes, designing websites or landscaping or writing a novel, and more.
4. They Process Information Through Their Right Brain Hemispheres
Disorganized people do not think in straight lines, the way linear thinking is in left-brain function. The right brain processor takes everything in at once, bounces off of ideas, and lets all ideas bounce off of one another in their mind, leading to creative ideas.
5. They Develop Strong Attachments to Often Unrelated Things and People
Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss used the term “bricoleur” to describe these people. They see value in diversity, because diversity stimulates their mind activity, so they develop strong attachments to a variety of objects and people with different personalities.
6. They Want to Be Around High-Energy People
High-energy people always have something going on, which can provide an opportunity for the disorganized person to have a new experience, to learn something new, to take what is learned and use it to generate new ideas.
7. They Tend to Lose Track of Time
Disorganized people may be 30 minutes late for a meeting, dinner, or wedding because they become engrossed in another activity which is fascinating and/or wildly interesting and is just in another “zone.” This is because time is linear and of less importance to this person.
8. They Have Difficulty Focusing When They Are Not Interested or Fascinated
Disorganized people often have difficulty in school, not because they lack intelligence, for clearly they do not. But if they are not interested in a certain topic in school or approach in a project, they will not spend the time required to master that content or skill. It is important to arouse their interest and engage them in a creative fashion.
9. They Are Intuitive, Extroverted, and Feeling According to Personality Testing
Disorganized people who take the Myers-Briggs test almost always score high in areas that, compiled, relate to a personality type identified as “visionary.” Visionaries love a challenge and find inspiration in solving problems that others see as impossible.
10. They Must Be Learning All the Time
Disorganized people have a compelling need to research and learn as long as the subject matter is interesting to them. They become extremely euphoric when they reach an “aha” moment, and there is a new insight or solution, which may cause them to challenge school or work authority and appear to be argumentative. Still, their insights can lead to new discoveries.
11. They Think Globally
Disorganized people often think about the big picture rather than just a small aspect of a problem. They are influenced by ideas and concepts in the environment around them and are genuinely curious about culture and customs.
12. They Think Differently
Chronic disorganization is a manifestation of unique cognitive processing in which an individual’s brain is wired to connect seemingly unrelated ideas, leading to novel associations that others may not see. This approach to thinking allows chronically disorganized people to come up with innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to difficult problems.
The Bottom Line
If you are chronically disorganized, you can take heart and be proud of your unique way of thinking. Despite criticism, you possess higher intelligence and creativity that can lead to new discoveries and innovations, it’s important to seek assistance in managing or minimizing the clutter that can hold you back or cause stress. You don’t have to give up being disorganized altogether, but it’s essential to develop new habits and strategies to control the clutter and manage your life more effectively.