Messy

The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives
Narrated by: Nicholas Guy Smith
Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (308 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning columnist and author of the national best-seller The Undercover Economist comes a provocative big-idea book about the genuine benefits of being messy: at home, at work, in the classroom, and beyond.

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives celebrates the benefits that messiness has in our lives: why it's important, why we resist it, and why we should embrace it instead. Using research from 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.

From the music studio of Brian Eno to the Lincoln Memorial with Martin Luther King Jr., from the boardroom to the classroom, messiness lies at the core of how we innovate, how we achieve, how we reach each other - in short, how we succeed.

In Messy, you'll learn about the unexpected connections between creativity and mess; understand why unexpected changes of plans, unfamiliar people, and unforeseen events can help generate new ideas and opportunities 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 keeps us from innovation.

Stimulating and listenable as it points exciting ways forward, Messy is an insightful exploration of the real advantages of mess in our lives.

©2016 Tim Harford (P)2016 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Messy

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I'm a neat freak with three kids...

Would you consider the audio edition of Messy to be better than the print version?

Yes, listening to the British accent of the narrator is soothing for considering the idea of thinking different to accept that sometimes Messy is just the right challenge to make us excel.

Which scene was your favorite?

Chapter 7 & 8 discussing the AirFrance flight 447 tragedy. It was an interesting and overwhelming doing a step by step of the final moments wishing you could help them.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

To consider that when I've been confronted with a mess, the best choices I've ever made were to take a deep breath and get to work.

Any additional comments?

As a mom of twin toddlers, I've had to give up my neatness, and it's not been easy to accept the 'mess' this helped me understand the positive side of that, and how I've thrived in the chaos.

4 people found this helpful

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Formulaic Review of Randomness

I found it a bit amusing that book ascribing the value of mess, or as a scientist would call it "random noise" has such a predictable pattern. That is, this book like the vast number of other pop psychology and behavioral economics books out there all follow the same pattern: key in on a few personal and emotionally appealing anecdotes and make sweeping generalizations on human behavior based on these isolated stories. In fact, more than a few of the stories were borrowed from other pop psych books. That said, the stories are entertaining and the narrator has a pleasant, baritone voice (with a hint of a British accent) that made this book easy to listen to on my daily commute: which by the way I am very certain is the fastest way to/from work since I ride a bike everyday and have systematically reviewed all routes possible! Enjoy the ride.

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There is hope

Tim wrote a great book that put me at ease about messiness.
Tim references several pop culture reference making it easy to relate stories I knew to his argument.
Nick 'the nice' Guy Smith narrates perfectly making X1 speed a comfortable pace.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who has ever pooh-poohed another's messy workspace.

2 people found this helpful

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Making space for the mess

The principles explored in the book are as relevant for personal relationships as they are for organizations, communities, and other human systems. This is also an important book as virtual reality and artificial intelligence become more of a focus in the business and technology sectors. I also felt empowered as a parent to allow —and perhaps even create — space for messiness in my children’s lives. Lastly, as a “piler” rather than a “filer” I felt encouraged that my messy way of approaching my life is perhaps not as dysfunctional as it may appear on the outside. Of course there is always a balance to be struck but I think holding space for the messiness that is simply part of the human experience is something missing in so many facets of American culture.

The audio book was a delight to listen to.

In short, I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Tim Harford's podcasts are better

I chose this title on the strength of Tim Harford's podcasts, namely "Cautionary Tales."

However, what works in 20 or 30-minute segments doesn't necessary work as well in a longer format. Perhaps this would have been a better paper book than audio.

The biggest disappointment, frankly, is that Harford himself doesn't do the reading. Harford has a much warmer, more personable voice, rather than Nicholas Guy Smith's "I went to Oxbridge and you didn't" timbre. His pronunciation of "LeCorbusier" sounds like he can't stand French people, whether that is his intention or not.

The book's premise is used up rather quickly. We get it -- diverse teams and untidy desks produce greater creativity. Harford takes a swipe at Steve Jobs for his obsession with minimalist design. Well, the day that your maximalist, disorganized workspace produces as much creativity and invention as Steve Jobs, then I'll listen to your book. There -- you just saved nine hours and 42 minutes.

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outstanding piece of original thinking, research

one of the most empowering books I've read to engage life in all its dynamics, especially the ones that initially appear disorderly and "not the way it should be." the messy, muddy and the "dangerous" building-site playgrounds will forever be used by me as lessons for a truly rich life, lived wide open with all its attendant lessons and advantages. practical wisdom of the day stand on notice that there may be a far wiser way to live, develop and appreciate life, in all its glories and God-given messes. Thank you for this profound and oh-so practical research and guidance.

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Amazing

Tim, thank you, your best book yet. Please remember that messy is the way we began simple organism tons of mess

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Are you stuck in a tidy system?

The title gives a false impression that messiness by itself can spark creativity, original thinking, and innovative solutions. Many of the examples in the book are of people who are already intelligent, hardworking, and successful. But by disregarding tidy, rigid systems or exploring other areas (than the problem at hand), these people are able to achieve incredible breakthroughs. Each chapter focuses on a lesson (constraints of a tidy system or benefits of unstructured thinking) and provides several examples. It is interesting from beginning to end. There are stories that make you think 'Am I stuck in a rut like this?'

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Loved the book. Tim Harford does a great job explaining why being Messy is a good thing.

I must admit that I’m a messy person, when it comes to my recording & art studio. Mr. Harford’s book has vindicated my seemingly disorganized creative lifestyle :) In fact, according to the author, in just about any situation being messy beats being well-organized. It may seem counterintuitive but Mr Harford makes his case based on many different situations, observations, and logical conclusions.

Messy is one of my favorite books - it’s at the top of the pile on my cluttered desk. Listen to the book to understand what I mean. I’m a songwriter, musician and artist. Mr. Harford’s discussion about creativity is spot on. My studio is a far from decluttered, giving me the freedom to be creative. No one else may be able to find things, but I can, and that works fine for me.

The narrator is excellent, one of the best Audible books I’ve listened to. The author does an amazing job of using many different examples to reach his conclusion (and vindicating my messy studio in the process). I would love to read other books by Tim Harford, and listen to other books by the narrator.

This is one book that I flew through in a few days. I highly recommend Messy!

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Enjoyable concepts<br />

i see how messiness can work in lives. and how it isn't always negative. enjoyable read!