Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Review: Messy: How To Be Creative and Resilient in A Tidy-Minded World (2016)

Messy: How To Be Creative and Resilient in A Tidy-Minded World (2016) 
by Tim Harford

My office table is always messy. Unclean cup, big volume books, empty bottle, crumpled paper, sugar container and – as I write this – there is a mysterious liquid soap on my table! There is a well-valued idiom: “cleanliness is next to godliness.” I agree. I make sure my clothes that I wear are clean. I wrapped my books so that it will not get wet or dirt. I will not wear socks more than 3 days. But as for my office table, notebook, calendar and file documents, messy is the right word to describe it. When I read that Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, two of my heroes, both had messy workspaces, I’m glad. Einstein famously pointing out that, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Good question.

I bought this book Messy at BookXcess Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya for only RM19.90 (MPH bookstore will cost you RM79.90). I love the cover design and any book with a word ‘creativity’ in it attract my attention. Tim Harford writing this book to celebrate the benefits that messiness has in our lives. Drawing from research in neuroscience, psychology and social science, Tim shows that “if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world.” What make this book interesting (though I think it can be shorter) is that it is very convincing because there are lot of real life examples, as well as scientific information on why it's true. Tim encourages messiness because it can lead us to productivity and creative thinking. “We are often succumb to the temptation of a tidy-minded approach,” writes Tim, “went we would be better served by embracing a degree of mess.” 

The author organized his book into nine categories: Creativity, Collaboration, Workplaces, Improvisation, Winning, Incentives, Automation, Resilience, and Life. Tim Harford writes, “Often we are so seduced by the blandishments of tidiness that we fail to appreciate the virtues of the messy - the untidy, unquantified, uncoordinated, improvised, imperfect, incoherent, crude, cluttered, random, ambiguous, vague, difficult, diverse or even dirty. The scripted speech misreads the energy of the room; the careful commander is disorientated by a more impetuous opponent; the writer is serendipitously inspired by a random distraction; the quantified targets create perverse incentives; the workers in the tidy office feel helpless and demotivated; a disruptive outsider aggravates the team but brings a fresh new insight. The worker with the messy inbox ultimately gets more done; we find a soulmate when we ignore the website questionnaires; the kids running loose in the wasteland not only have fun and learn more skills, but also - counter-intuitively - have fewer accidents.” 

Life is a beautiful mess. 
You can make it more beautiful by embracing its. 
If you don’t, you’ll mess it up J

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