Habits of the Highly Disorganized… "Bless your Mess!"

posted by Brendan Hodgson

“Moderately messy systems outperform extremely orderly systems.”

I think that if I’m ever fortunate enough to meet Eric Abrahamson or David Freedman, authors of “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder“, I will buy them a drink (or more than one).

Why? Because, according to the authors, and as reported in Time, I can now take comfort in the lawlessness and general dishevelment that is my desk. No longer must I suffer the indignant glances of my colleagues, or feel a sense of inadequacy at the sight of their grotesquely sterile and well-manicured work spaces. In fact, and to my somewhat perverted delight, trying to maintain an immaculate and clutter-free zone was found by the esteemed authors to be, against all popular wisdom, counterproductive. (input smug chortle here).

“There’s a reason people tend to stack stuff on their desks,” reports Time’s Jeremy Caplan in summarizing the book, “Such intuitive organization can be effective. Not only are things often hard to find once secluded in a complex filing system, but they’re also out of sight and therefore out of mind. Those with mesy desks often stumble upon serendipitous connections between disparate documents.”

To quote H. Simpson, it’s funny because it’s true. Very often, and as I plow through stacks of paper seeking the elusive memo, strategy, or earlier draft of a messaging document, I regularly fall upon old white papers I’ve yet to read, bits and pieces of old RFP’s, draft presentations and other such caboodle. And much like Dirk Gently, the Douglas Adams character who seems always to get to where he needs simply by following a car which looks like it knows where it’s going, it often seems fortuitous that I happen to pick that particular stack (as there are many) at that particular time, as whatever I fall upon tends to offer up something useful to what it was I was working on. Perhaps it’s my own little taste of Chaos theory.

4 Comments
05

Mar
2007

Ian Barr

Ah yes, controlled chaos as I like to call it. I’m not only a fan, but also a member.

06

Mar
2007

Ian Ketcheson

Nice. You worked in a Douglas Adams reference.

It reminded me of my favourite DA quote: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

06

Mar
2007

Gary Schlee

Ah, a book I’ve been meaning to read. In fact, there’s a possibility that it’s on my desk somewhere. A grad of mine once willingly passed on to me a plaque that sat on her desk, remembering what my desk looked like: "If a cluttered desk signifies a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk signify?"

06

Mar
2007

Kerry

Not that i need to read a book to justify my work space… but maybe someone else needs to read a book to justify my work space… validation man!!!

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