The Epiphany Of A Chronic Scatterbrain

Or, Sustainable Tidiness.

I’ve never been very good at, well, being neat. I clean my room once a semester. Or once I realize I haven’t any place to write at my desk anyone. Whatever happens later. I tie my hair in a tight plait, only for it to disintegrate into a fuzzy nest. I scrawl in my new notebooks once the honeymoon of pristine neatness is over, the once straight lines even curling up into spirals. Note that the last part is invalid now that it’s college- ‘tis a miracle if I use more than 5 pages a course.

My life is a lesson in physics – all systems go towards a state of higher entropy. Always.


To make this slovenly state of being worse, I’ve your usual Indian mom. Commonly calm and happy as long as you’re eating and studying, they descend like a Howler on you whenever they sense a high-entropy system. It is terrible to experience, but worse if you try not to. You absolutely may not do anything else until you’re done cleaning your room, else she shall explode.

This cleaning routine, as guided by the loving Howler, would include stacking everything that is possible to stack, putting inside everything possible to put inside, covering everything that can be covered and tying up everything that can possibly be tied up.

When I was younger, I’d protest against the Howler, insisting that there’s no point, for my room would go back to its original state within a week. Now I’m older. And wiser, I am. Previously, I merely thought of the *what*. Everything would go back to the way it was because I tried too hard to reduce the entropy! Hit by this realization, I mentioned this to mother while attempting to explain why I had untied all the socks. Taking this to be another attempt to get out of cleaning my room like a civilized child, the Howler returned.


This only meant one thing. I would need a proof of concept. Too lazy to tidy up my entire room of books, clothes and more books, most of my experiments happened in my hostel room. Having kept my room sane for more than a week and half, I’d like to call my attempts a success.

A common error made by amateurs is, to put it mildly, be insane. Everything single article of clothing ever to exist in that room stowed away, often tied up with spare string in a cupboard far from any door. Every book, notebook and pen locked up far, far away from your desk.

Such a setup will inevitably fail. Enforcing such a drastic decrease in entropy takes mind boggling amounts of energy, and even more to maintain.


I do not condone leaving your room in a state in absolute chaos, however. Take that jacket lying on your chair. Yes, that one. Think,  “Where? Where do I toss this when I come back from my late night coffee runs?”

Yes, that’s where you’re supposed to keep it. No, not on your chair. On a hook. Or a rail. Even a clothing line, if you must. If neither exists in that area, your room isn’t arranged the right way, and that oh-so-pretty room arrangement of yours has doomed your room to eternal chaos.

Either nearby, or as far as possible from that chair – that Atlas carrying the burden of your entire wardrobe –  you’ll see your table. Or a levitating mass of assorted objects that can only be held at that height by that piece of furniture you saw when you first moved in here.

What do you see?  (tl;dr – everything you own, and more)

You see some tiny things. A tangled up mess of wires. Too many pens and pencils to count – none of which are yours, and only one works. Some clothes even Atlas could not hold. Books you’ve never read. All of your toiletries. And your roommates’.

Such a mess happens when too many entities are forced to coexist in a single system. Grab your shoeboxes, cups, laundry bags – whatever you can get your hands on. Entropy is a concave function, my friend – divide and conquer, for all those imbeciles who fear Mathematics, Mother of Dragons Science. Dump by size, shape, function – the choice is yours. The more systems, the merrier.


Embrace the chaos, and thy abode shalt be thine, once more.

-Sneha Reddy


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