Sunday, January 28, 2007

Useful Mess

I was watching CBS News Sunday Morning today and saw a great piece Bill Geist did on the benefits of mess. He cited a new book called A Perfect Mess and used the offices of CBS reporters and producers to support the book's theory that there is such a thing as "useful mess."

The Barnes and Noble editors say of the book: "At long last, a retort to the neatniks! A Perfect Mess can be read as a sound rejoinder to all those "cut-the-clutter" arguments, but it serves a far deeper purpose than settling family tiffs over closet space. Columbia University management professor Eric Abrahamson and writing partner David Freedman have constructed a book about the beneficial implications of disorder in nearly every aspect of our lives. Their lively, anecdote-rich narrative draws on examples from business, parenting, cooking, retail, and politics. A heterodox thesis; a groundbreaking book."

Now given the state of my three offices (at home, at school, and in the classroom I now share), you can imagine that the piece at least piqued my interest. The publisher says "A PERFECT MESS will help readers assess what the right amount of disorder is for a given system, and how to apply these ideas onto a large scale--government, society-- and on a small scale--in your attic, kitchen, or office. A PERFECT MESS will forever change the way we think about those unruly heaps of paper on our desks." And Bill Geist's humorous approach to the subject helped me gain some perspective on the stress I usually feel on Sundays to gain control of the things I've not had time to do during the week.

If you're single and you work in a job that is anything but 9 to 5 as I do, it's difficult to keep a handle on household chores, never mind the clutter that naturally accumulates with every day living. By the sounds of it, though, there is help...or hope...on the horizon for people such as me. I think I just may head out to find that book and see for myself. Meanwhile, Geist closed his piece with this: "If, as Albert Einstein said, 'A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind.' Of what, then, is the sign of an empty desk?"

Photos: Things I use to distract from the useful mess in my house: flowers, interesting dolls, bears, and funny cats. =)

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