WBR: A Perfect Mess

Given all the time I’ve spent blogging about housekeeping and feeling overrun by toys, I couldn’t resist a book called A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder.

The authors (Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman) acknowledge that there is such a thing as too much mess.  Their argument isn’t that all mess is good, but that we have such knee-jerk reactions against mess that we waste a lot of time, effort and money trying to maintain excessive levels of order.  They suggest that the money spent hiring professional organizers might be better spent in most cases on additional storage space, and that piles on your desk are an efficient way of keeping the most frequently used resources close to hand.

Except that this argument wouldn’t be enough to fill an article in Real Simple, let alone a 300 page book. So they throw in whole bunch of anecdotes that are loosely connected to the idea of mess. They hop around from subject to subject — touching on everything from classical music to the discovery of penicillian, from professional organizers to decentralized organizational charts to noisy cell phones.  I’d say that the book itself is messy, except that at other times the authors becomes excessively organized themselves, e.g. developing a taxonomy of messes (clutter, noise, blur, distraction, distortion, etc).

4 Responses to “WBR: A Perfect Mess”

  1. dave s Says:

    My mother-in-law once looked at our house and asked, “has either one of you ever thrown away any single thing?” Books in particular are a problem for us. There is likely some point where de-cluttering our lives would pass the point of being sensible, but we are nowhere near that point. This book, I think I won’t invest in!

  2. jackie Says:

    The next thing on my de-cluttering list is weeding out books, which gives me shivers even to contemplate, but is getting very necessary since we ran out of bookshelf space years ago.

  3. Ayelet Brenner Says:

    I’m reading about the mess…and enjoying myself…somewhat.
    Just had a huge argument with my husband re “my disorder” –
    But – he likes to collect books….and we run out of space on our shelves too!!!
    I wish I had more space!
    I was wondering – what is your criteria for getting rid of books – how do you decide which one goes out??? – I’m having a hard time getting rid of them,
    maybe I can be enlighted??

  4. Nan Says:

    I’m in the buy-more-shelves camp personally. ;-)

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