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The science behind an organized mind

Science behind an organized mind header image

Is there a reason why some of us find organization and maintaining concentration more straightforward than others? We spoke to Chartered Psychologist, Dr. Max Blumberg to uncover the science behind an organized mind, and how you can improve your own time management. Following this, we conducted a survey of 2,838 Americans, to determine whether there is a relationship between how people describe their habits and their personality type.

What is the science behind organization?

According to Dr. Blumberg, the reason why some of us find organization simple, while others struggle, largely comes down to a part of the brain called the reticular activation system (RAS).

The RAS, in essence, is a network of neurons positioned at the brain stem that play an important role in influencing behavior. Your RAS also works in conjunction with your brain’s executive system (prefrontal cortex), to manage self-control, which plays a part in maintaining concentration during tasks.

How does your RAS impact organization?

Importantly, not everybody’s RAS is the same, with some naturally much more active than others. Having a very active RAS is equivalent to your brain being ‘on’ all the time, which allows you to absorb the detail in the world around you. This focus allows you to structure and organize information accordingly. Subsequently, though, if you have an active RAS, you are less likely to want additional constant external activity, and thus tend to be introverted.

In contrast, if you have a quieter RAS, you are more inclined to enjoy socializing and asserting yourself in a group environment. However, being immersed in external activity makes it more difficult for you to filter and structure information efficiently, making you less organized.

Is organization a determined trait?

You might think that the RAS can adapt as an individual grows up, depending on their surroundings and experiences, but, incredibly, the behavioral neurons stabilize in children as young as five years old; this determines from an early age whether a child will grow up to be more or less organized than their peers. However, as a person grows older, their RAS activation can reduce, which means they may become less organized and increasingly extroverted.

Is it possible to be organized as an extrovert?

Organization is not something that everyone can easily learn, as it’s largely dependent on your RAS and other brain functions such as your prefrontal cortex. In the same way that an introverted person can choose to behave as though they’re the life and soul of a party, though, you can “fake” organization skills, even as an extrovert; but the energy it takes to maintain the pretense will take it out of you sooner or later. The science dictates that, if you’re naturally extroverted, your mind simply isn’t molded to absorb and structure information in the same way as an introvert. If you’re struggling to remain organized in business, you may benefit from our Phone Answering Service to lessen the load.

Do behavioral traits really reflect personality type?

To analyze the relationship between perceived behavior and perceived personality type, we surveyed 2,838 American adults. Interestingly, despite 23.89% of participants considering themselves to have an introverted personality, around twice that claim to practice excellent timekeeping (56.45%) and task prioritization (44.86%); both are traditionally habits of the organized mind, so you’d expect the rate of these behaviors to echo the number of introverts.

Meanwhile, more expectedly, a third of Americans practice mindfulness (37.91%), keep a to-do list (37.14%), get up early in the morning (35.91%), and plan the day ahead (31.22%), which is more reflective of the introverted population. Similarly, a quarter of respondents admitted to being naturally disorganized, which closely mirrors the 21.25% of Americans who consider themselves to be extroverted.

Finally, as far as gender trends go our survey suggests, there are more extroverted (26.47%) males than introverted (20.67%), while there are more introverted (26.79%) females than naturally extroverted (16.54%).

Which states are least and most organized?

Map showing the most and least impatient States in the US

Our survey was distributed to participants across each US state, allowing us to determine which are the most and least organized.

After indexing each behavioral response, to give each state a ranking score out of 10, we can reveal that Hawaii (6.47) takes the crown as most organized, with Colorado (6.46) closely behind, and West Virginia (6.36), Delaware (6.13), and Rhode Island (6.10) completing the top five.

Contrastingly, Mississippi (3.01) is the least organized American state, with Arkansas (3.05), Alabama (3.35), Wisconsin (3.37), and Louisiana (3.45) also ranking among the worst. Additionally, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the cliched mania of New York City, the state of New York (3.86) is also a poor-ranking state for organization.

How to improve organization skills

If you find yourself struggling to keep on top of your daily and weekly jobs, deadlines, and meetings, you can quickly find yourself overcome with stress. We asked Dr. Blumberg to outline his top three tips for improving your organization skills.

1. Write everything down

Image of a notepad

Don’t try to keep anything in your head. If you try and remember all of your tasks and deadlines, you’ll begin to burn out, so write everything down in a notebook or digital organization resource – no matter how much or little you have to do.

2. Try not to get flustered

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Writing everything down can help you to remember everything you have to do, but it can quickly become an overwhelming list. Instead of getting intimidated, persevere and you’ll quickly begin to tick off your tasks.

3. Stick to a philosophy that works

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Find a time management and organization philosophy that works for you and stick with it. If you’re not naturally organized, learning to manage your time effectively can be difficult, so don’t be tempted to alter your approach if you find one that works.

Good organization is crucial to maintain efficiency across your business, and in day-to-day life. For even more expert organization and business management advice and tips, head on over to our blog.

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