Why You Should Hire A "Scatterbrained" Person

February 9th 2016

Taylor Bell

Forgetful, all over the place, distracted, disorganized: These are all traits that you wouldn’t think are necessarily the keys to success in life. But it turns out that being a little bit of a scatterbrain could be one of your more admirable qualities.

"The more disorganized your brain is, the smarter you are," said Steven Johnson in his book "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation."

But how?

It seems counterintuitive. Well, Johnson based his idea on research from a neuroscience experiment by Robert Thatcher, who found that the high volume of ideas swirling about in bigger cities makes them disproportionately more creative than smaller cities, TIME's Eric Baker reported.

"Despite all the noise and crowding and distraction, the average resident of a metropolis with a population of 5 million people was almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town of 100,000," Johnson wrote in his book, according to a post on Baker's personal blog.

This is important to note because so-called scatterbrains often get criticized for having too many ideas running around their brains at once, something that appears to make them ineffective.

"Being scatterbrained is often a symptom of a hectic modern life in which we are often over-committed, overworked, and inundated with information," researcher Edward Vogel of the University of Oregon told Live Science. "Given such an environment, it would not be surprising if many of our important cognitive control processes become overtaxed and less efficient."

But this chaos actually is more beneficial than we think.

"There may be advantages to having a lot of seemingly irrelevant information coming to mind," Vogel said. "Being a bit scattered tends to be a trait of highly imaginative people."

Chances are the more ideas you have sloshing around in your brain — even though it may seem a little cluttered — the better a problem solver you are.

For instance, having multiple hobbies allows the brain to unconsciously analyze different problems and solutions at the same time, Johnson wrote. Similarly, reading multiple books at once helps the brain to compare and contrast the ideas in both books and find a way to link the two together, Johnson argued.

This is also the case with people who have attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder, according to Johnson. People who have a "wandering mind" are more creative, and those with ADD and bipolar disorder are associated with greater levels of creativity, he said.

h/t Time

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