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Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World Hardcover – 27 Oct 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (27 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408706768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408706763
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 3.1 x 16.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganization, improvisation and confusion. His liberating message: you'll be more successful if you stop struggling so hard to plan or control your success. Messy is a deeply researched, endlessly eye-opening adventure in the life-changing magic of not tidying up (Oliver Burkeman)

[Harford's] best and deepest book (Tyler Cowen)

Messy masterfully weaves together anecdote and academic work (The Economist)

Harford urges us to recapture our autonomy . . . fascinating . . . Harford's argument goes beyond aesthetics, resurfacing over and over in his engrossing narrative (Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game New York Times)

A profoundly stimulating canter through why we should all allow a little mess - but not chaos - in our lives, on our desks, and in our minds. A powerful expansion of Harford's previous excellent work, from a fascinating and contrasting viewpoint (David Halpern)

It's a very very good book, full of wise counterintuitions and clever insights (Brian Eno)

A charismatic book . . . Few writers are better qualified to champion disorder and particularity . . . Harford is an elegant and dizzyingly catholic thinker . . . entertaining and insightful (The Times)

Tim Harford's brilliant new book (Viv Groskop The Pool)

Messy is a book filled with instructive stories in the manner of Malcolm Gladwell (New Statesman)

Messy is an intelligent self-help book designed to cultivate greater tolerance for spontaneity, uncertainty, dissonance and diversity. Harford's evidence-based account transcends the cliches endemic to the genre - or refashions them anew (Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

The new book from the author of The Undercover Economist shows us how we can lead messier lives - and why we should.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating collection of stories and studies about the benefits of being messy and fighting the urge for tidiness and order. As a creative person, I especially enjoyed reading about how messiness contributes to creativity and how tidiness can, up to a point, benefit too, but at a certain stage results in stale thinking.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is another interesting read from Tim Hartford. Typically for a book by an economist it shows how much of what you know is wrong.
It is written in an accessible way so you don't need to be an economist to enjoy it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Such a relief to read in a world of 'clear desk policy' fanatics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At last someone who understands = to hell with the 'clear desk policy' I have work to do
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book.
Easy and fun to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Re-heated food sometimes tastes better than freshly cooked food: the flavours can have more depth to them. That’s how I feel about this book. Its anecdotal style is reminiscent of Tom Peter’s “Liberation Management: Necessary disorganisation for the nanosecond nineties” and its message isn’t too different. Harford has added extra depth whilst still covering subjects of interest to all managers such as Collaboration, Incentives and Automation. The stories come thick and fast in what I found was an exhausting read. The repetitive nature of his message about mess and disorganisation became wearying.
And lurking behind the book is the nagging subject of tidiness which the author doesn’t properly deal with. Mostly Harford is over anxious to prove his point by selective anecdotes, making only occasional grudging acceptance of the value of tidiness. He skilfully avoids the “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo - perhaps intimidated by its huge sales figures - until a section at the end. Even there he misses the point that by using the simple heuristic of asking the question “Does it spark joy?” the effort of tidying and filing produces a result that is not overwhelming; rather it is a spur to further action. It is a major weakness of Harford’s book not to place tidiness and messiness together. They are both key strategies in life. The most shocking image I’ve seen on the internet in recent years is the picture of Mark Zuckerberg’s wardrobe: only grey t-shirts nicely arranged on hangers. This very tidy solution to simplify getting dressed in the morning is presumably important for someone who is very busy. Tidy strategies are effective even for someone who has followed a disruptive business strategy.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a a great book. It is well researched, informative and great fun to read.
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Format: Hardcover
From time to time I get a yen to live in an orderly world. Suddenly aghast at the junkheap of notes, papers, post-its and books that my desk has become, I tidy it up, binning some things and carefully sorting other items into files. Then I survey the neatly arranged pens and single new notepad with satisfaction, only to discover that I can no longer find the things that were previously there at my fingertips.

The problem is not that our minds are messy, but that we don't accept that messy thinking can often be a good thing. So we try to impose order on our working environment and in doing so risk stifling the creativity that can come from serendipitous connections. In Messy, Tim Harford shows how disorder takes many forms and can be stimulating and productive, whether in life, the workplace, the battlefield, or the mind. Every book of Mr Harford's is filled with insight, humour, erudition, intellectual delight, and refreshingly laser-focus logic, and this is no exception.
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