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Maniacs’ Book Club – Messy ~ Tim Harford

Maniacs’ Book Club – Messy ~ Tim Harford

April 2017 Maniacs’ Book Club – Messy: the power of disorder to transform our lives 

by Tim Harford

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives celebrates messiness in our lives: why it’s important, why we resist it, and why we should embrace it instead. Drawing from research in neuroscience, psychology, and social science, as well as captivating examples of real people doing extraordinary things, Tim Harford explains that the human qualities we value – creativity, responsiveness, resilience — are integral to the disorder, confusion, and disarray that produce them.” — Book Cover

To buy a copy of the book:

Messy by Tim Harford

 How to Apply this Book to Organizing

  • What if we didn’t obsess about being perfect and just did things spontaneously?
  • What if we embrace our messiness as a sign that we are living a life worth living?
  • And, what if we started finishing our projects just for the sake of finishing them?

 Big Picture of the Book

Life is going to be messy! The book is filled with stories of people who have achieved their best in a time of chaos.   My favorite part of the book was in the Messy Life section, which is at the end of the book.

  • Stop obsessing about your emails, and getting it all organized!
  • Monthly planners developed better long term time management than daily planners.
  • Pilers (people who stack paperwork) tend to have less paperwork than people that file their stuff away

*Okay, this needs an explanation! We can help you set up a filing system that feels like piling, but that stuff doesn’t have to live on your desk!

Review Framework

“We are tidy-minded people, instinctively admiring order and in denial about the way mess tends to be the inevitable by-product of good things, and is sometimes a good thing in its own right.”

~Tim Harford

Case Study

Scott could never finish any project he started. He would kick off every project with a lot of enthusiasm and hope.

Early into every project he would always feel that he needed more information, tools, supplies, you name it. He needed something he didn’t have, and it almost always included a trip to the store.

Those trips couldn’t always happen. Because it was the middle of the night, because he was out of spare time, because he had to go to work, because he had family responsibilities he needed to take care of.

As soon as he stopped the project, the motivation to finish it stopped as well.

When I approached him with this idea, of just finishing and embracing the messiness of the project, and improvising on the fly, he was not sure.

Scott is still making adjustments, but I am glad to report, he finished one project!

Here is to how embrace your Messy

Step 1: Identify what’s keeping you from finishing your project.

Step 2: Experiment with improvising! Are you missing a product to finish your project? What else do you already have around the house that can be a substitute?  Think like McGyver!

Step 3: Try moving ahead without following the exact plan.

Step 4: How did it turn out? Was the final product just as good as you expected?

Perfectionism and procrastination are two things I had to struggle with in the past. I know, you are thinking… What? You are a professional Organizer! Yes, we too can experience paralysis analysis! It is one of my goals this year to finish things, they don’t have to be perfect the projects just need to be finished!

“In Messy, you will learn about the unexpected connections between creativity and mess; understand why unexpected changes in plans, unfamiliar people, and unforeseen events can help generate new ideas and opportunities even as they make you anxious and angry; and come to appreciate that the human inclination for tidiness-in our personal and professional lives, online, even in children’s play-can mask deep and debilitating fragility that keep us from innovation.” Book Cover

I enjoyed this book because it was filled with inspiring stories of people who thrived by embracing a bit of messiness. I hope you understand that I am not advocating for living in complete chaos. And I am advocating for embracing a bit of disorder. And advocating for you to stop procrastinating, and to get some of your projects finished!

I believe you can have balance between order and chaos!

Happy Organizing!



Cris Sgrott

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