A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder

Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman

Albert Einstein’s desk was a mess. According to Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, our cultural obsession with neatness and order could be keeping us from all sorts of nifty insights. Their argument—that what appears disorderly is often simply ordered in a more flexible and creative way—makes sense, at least to this reader (often surrounded by towering piles o’ books and papers). After all, low-priority items tend to migrate to the bottom of the pile, which often eliminates unnecessary work. With plenty of concrete examples and a skeptical attitude toward all the organizing systems out there for sale, the authors start with a much more reasonable approach to clutter: Aw, relax—as long as you can find what you need. Give a copy of this book to whoever’s been nagging about your clutter.