Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: A Perfect Mess

When I read David Allen's book, Getting Things Done, I concluded that I really should get my act together and get more organized so that I could accomplish more in life. I typically fall prey to that theory society touts of organization leading to greater success. Now, I've discovered the flip side of those arguments.

In A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder: how crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on-the-fly planning make the world a better place, authors Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman have compiled loads of examples of instances where clutter and disorganization actually serve to make a person more effective. Although they are not advocating a slide into complete disorder, the authors clearly alleviate the guilt messy, undisciplined individuals are likely to feel over the mess they seem incapable of avoiding.

I don't know how many times, I have tried to get a handle on my piles of clutter and after organizing them and placing things where I think they belong, I discover that I cannot locate something which would have easily been located if the mess had merely been left alone. Despite the appearance of disarray, there is obviously a method to my madness and this book articulates clearly why those methods work for messy individuals. The case studies supporting the hidden benefits of mess were fascinating and comprehensive. These authors left no stone unturned. As the back cover description states, "Drawing on examples from business, parenting, cooking, the war on terrorism, retail, and even the meteoric career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, coauthors Abrahamson and Freedman demonstrate that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, yield better solutions, and are harder to break than neat ones."

I'm so glad to have found this book. I feel vindicated. My lack of an organized system is no better or worse than my husband's hyper-vigilant organizational methods ... just different. When I try to force myself into his mold, I am paralyzed. When he tries to use my methods, he feels intense anxiety. So, if you are a person who agonizes over your inability to get your act together and organize your life or your environs, agonize no more. Allow your clutter and mess to work for you and admire the creativity that flows when the mess is kept to a moderate level but not eliminated entirely.

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