reducing entropy

In inspiration, learning, motivation by Jay Clouse

When I first considered the prospect of living alone, I was terrified. It seemed like it would be so different and lonely to live inside of four walls with no one to talk to besides myself.

But I remember an intrinsic sense that it would be good for me, and so I made the leap.

Since that time, I think I’ve changed quite a bit. I really believe I’ve become much more independent, responsible, knowledgeable, disciplined, focused, and ambitious.

At first, I thought this was just a measure of age breeding some expected maturity. But I think there is even more at play…

A friend and mentor, James Clear, wrote an excellent piece about a measure of disorder, called Entropy (remember Chemistry?). It’s absolutely worth reading the whole piece.

Imagine that you take a box of puzzle pieces and dump them out on a table. In theory, it is possible for the pieces to fall perfectly into place and create a completed puzzle when you dump them out of the box. But in reality, that never happens.

Why?

Quite simply, because the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Every piece would have to fall in just the right spot to create a completed puzzle. There is only one possible state where every piece is in order, but there are a nearly infinite number of states where the pieces are in disorder. Mathematically speaking, an orderly outcome is incredibly unlikely to happen at random…

Here’s the crucial thing about entropy: it always increases over time.

It is the natural tendency of things to lose order. Left to its own devices, life will always become less structured. Sand castles get washed away. Weeds overtake gardens. Ancient ruins crumble. Cars begin to rust. People gradually age. With enough time, even mountains erode and their precise edges become rounded. The inevitable trend is that things become less organized.

You can fight back against the pull of entropy. You can solve a scattered puzzle. You can pull the weeds out of your garden. You can clean a messy room. You can organize individuals into a cohesive team.

But because the universe naturally slides toward disorder, you have to expend energy to create stability, structure, and simplicity. Successful relationships require care and attention. Successful houses require cleaning and maintenance. Successful teams require communication and collaboration. Without effort, things will decay.

This insight—that disorder has a natural tendency to increase over time and that we can counteract that tendency by expending energy—reveals the core purpose of life. We must exert effort to create useful types of order that are resilient enough to withstand the unrelenting pull of entropy

Since moving into a studio alone, I’ve kept my living space more organized and tidy than I ever have in my life. With no one else here, I have no one to blame for any disorder. And because I’m taking care to order my external world, it’s brought more order (and discipline) to my internal world too.

The state of my apartment is generally reflective of the state of my mind.

I appreciate and take care of the state of my living space more than ever before, and it truly has a positive impact on my performance too.

So if you’re feeling disorganized or undisciplined, take some time to bring order to your world. It’s natural for things to decay into disorder — it takes energy to bring it back.

PS: Want to bring even more order to your home? Check out our free workshop.


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