The rewards of being disorganized

I often wonder why so many people make little or no effort to get their lives organized. Everyone agrees that getting your environment and affairs organized makes life easier, but so few seem to do it.

Then I had an idea. Maybe its psychologically more rewarding to be disorganized than it is to be organized, at least in the short term.

What gave me this idea is an New York Times opinion piece that described experiments regarding willpower:
In this piece the authors assert that "the brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation, so exerting willpower in one area often leads to backsliding in others." They also said that modifying behavior in pursuit of goals uses up willpower: "The brain’s store of willpower is depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals." They discuss experiments showing that exercising willpower on one task results in reduced performance on a subsequent task requiring willpower.

So maybe getting organized, which naturally involves modifying behavior in pursuit of goals, is experienced by people as draining.

And maybe the surprises and emergencies that result from being disorganized are rewarding because they trigger an adrenaline rush (sorry no articles yet to cite for that proposition). There is something stimulating about quickly reacting to emergency after emergency, and that mode of living is so rewarding that we have movies and TV shows like Indian Jones and 24, that depict it.

The rewards of reacting to crisis, and the draining nature of proper preparation, could lead to a dynamic where a person would experience getting organized as unrewarding because (1) the exercise of willpower is draining, and (2) the reduction in emergencies leads to fewer rewarding spurts of adrenaline. Someone attempting to pull their lives together could simply find the experience to just feel wrong.

This could explain why the chronically disorganized tend to look down on the organized as living a dull and meaningless existence. In their experience attempts at organization left them feeling drained and unstimulated, and so they assume that the lives of organized people must be draining and unrewarding.

Well, are the disorganized people right? Are the organized not living life to the fullest? According to the New York Times piece people can grow their capacity for willpower by exercising it, just like you can make a muscle stronger with exercise. So maybe the organized people who have bulked up their willpower with regular exercises of willpower don't find being organized to be nearly as draining as the disorganized experience it to be.

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