When I was younger, I didn't care much about order. Didn't care if my bed was made, if the dishes were done, things like that.
Partially, I guess, it's a normal thing for a kid to not care about those things. Also, my parents are very clean and orderly people, and I've heard a lot of times generations switch patterns between generation - one generation will be into order, the next will find it oppressive and be messy, the one after that will find the messiness awful and tend to be much more orderly, etc, etc.
I don't know if that's true - I haven't seen any studies on it. Sounds reasonable, though.
So yeah, when I was younger, I didn't care. I wanted to read my books and play Chess at the cafe or do interesting things, and cleaning seemed like it didn't fit the bill. I figured I thrived well enough in chaos, and I'd rather have a chaotic environment and more time to myself.
I'm not exactly sure when that changed, but I've done a 180 on it.
Nowadays, when my mind is scattered and I'm having a hard time thinking, I tend to like cleaning. If your environment is a mess, it kind of pulls your thoughts in all directions as you look around. Also, cleaning is one of those things where your mind is busy on something else, but you can do great thinking in the back of your mind - similar to how you can have such creative thoughts when showering. You're kind of working sideways at whatever you're working on.
Naturally orderly people don't need this message since they're already doing it. But if you think you thrive in chaos, then try cleaning the next time you're confused or mentally scattered. Don't worry about cleaning everything, just start picking up the stuff that's most obviously in the wrong place and putting it away, throwing it away, whatever. Maybe run a cloth or paper towel over a dusty surface. If you have 4-6 items on your desk, put them in a nice pretty sort of pattern.
It's like magic, really. The orderly already know this, but if you've never tried cleaning when you're having a hard time thinking - well, I highly recommend you try it.
I thought I was the only one! Cleaning takes my mind off things. I usually feel refreshed once I see all my books and papers piled up neatly on my desk.
Cleaning absolutely helps. Sometimes, I'll be working on a project at my desk for long enough that I end up surrounded in piles of paper, empty mugs, and other random items. It's funny how this physical mess ends up creating a sort of mental fog, where I don't feel like getting anything done, so I typically get up from my chair, step back, and sort things into a pile. Even forming piles is better than leaving things scattered around. It's the structure that probably helps. Good post!
Ephemeralization's been a really interesting effect concurrent with the fat loss; 34 pounds since the new year. Okay, the pantry and closet emptying might have been predictable, but the bookcases and weapons rack?! Huh.
I've noticed this helps too. I'll even put off certain chores in case I need to do this.
I think it has something to do with letting your mind wonder, like you already pointed out. But also as something more. You just accomplished something. A chore now complete. It's a micro-win, which could be just the thing you need when you're feeling scattered. A little boost, to reassure you that even though your mind feels out of whack, you can still get something done. All while letting your mind solve bigger problems.
What's cyclothymia? It's a mild form of the docs used to call "manic-depression," but which they re-name periodically. Cyclothymics can actually function decently well, and as such often don't know they've got it. If you cycle through highs and lows, are particularly artistic, or that describes someone you love, then read this post in full and please comment with your own experience. I'm still learning, myself.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CYCLOTHYMIA
Knowing the term "Cyclothymia" would have been very helpful to me a few years ago. This essay is plain English and, if I've done a good job, might help people who associate with a cyclothymic relate better to them, and might help a cyclothymic manage themselves better and produce better.
I'm against the "medical-ization" of life. We need medical terms, but we need to be able to explain things in plain English without labeling. Labeling, by definition, drastically simplifies.
Cyclothymia is simple at its roots, simple enough for a plain discussion without medicalization. Here's how it works for me -
No, not now.
Chances are, if you want to change your life, you've found yourself at the end of a series of bad choices. If you're a student cramming for finals, if you're a freelancer who didn't do the project you have to give your client next week, or an employee who hasn't been meeting their daily quotas for a while now, you're thinking "Alright, it's time to change my life so this never happens to me again."
Right now, while you're in this rut, do whatever's working for you. Sprint over the finish line because you walked the rest of it. Do whatever works, no matter how cheap it feels.
Then, when everything's calmed down--a new semester, a new client, a new year, change your life.
Changing your life is slow and it requires you to not have this much on your plate. You can only change one thing at a time, and if you're trying to change while all of your energy is going towards cleaning up your mess, you won't change--and worse, you'll forget about changing your life until things get this drastic again.