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Download A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder? How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder? How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place Audiobook, by Eric Abrahamson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (514 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Eric Abrahamson, David H. Freedman Narrator: David H. Freedman Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2007 ISBN: 9781594836169
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Ever since Einstein's study of Brownian Motion, scientists have understood that a little disorder can actually make systems more effective. Yet most people still shun disorder or suffer guilt over the mess they can't avoid.


With a spectacular array of true stories and case studies of the hidden benefits of mess, A Perfect Mess overturns the accepted wisdom that tight schedules, organization, neatness, and consistency are the keys to success. Drawing on examples from business, parenting, cooking, the war on terrorism, retail, and even the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abrahamson and Freedman demonstrate that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, yield better solutions, and are harder to break than neat ones.

Applying this idea on scales both large (government, society) and small (desktops, garages), A Perfect Mess uncovers the ways messiness can trump neatness, and will help you assess the right amount of disorder for any system.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Juliet | 2/11/2014

    " I enjoyed listening to this book & I have the CD to share. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 2/6/2014

    " Makes me feel better about myself... ;-) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jay | 2/4/2014

    " This book advertises itself as a "Freakonomics"-type look into messiness. The book does have the freakonomics feel, with short magazine-ish articles that relate to many aspects of "messiness" and having a bit of a "inside joke" tone. I think the authors really stretched the concept into areas beyond "messiness" and into other areas where the concept isn't really that pertinent. In that, it was like reading an issue of a pop science magazine. From the title I was expecting more related to my messy desk, and i didn't really get what I was led to expect. I listened to this on audio, the narration was just OK. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meghan Blueberry McCarthy | 2/4/2014

    " Not uber convincing but love the thought that the mess is necessary art of world "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Swain | 1/29/2014

    " Love this book! It gives credence to my messes. If someone cleans up my desk, I can't find anything! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Genevieve | 1/23/2014

    " This was a great book. It reaffirmed my opinion that a certain mount of messiness is not a bad thing despite what parents and society has always told me. The co-authors draw on examples from home to government to share the opinion that moderate messiness is not necessarily a bad thing. This made me feel much better about myself and helped me understand that there are many different ways to get to the same end. Highly recommend to messies and to non-messies to understand messies! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori Grant | 1/20/2014

    " A should-read book on how to be productive in your job as your manage your career. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tiff | 1/20/2014

    " I don't feel like a complete mess afterall. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/16/2014

    " A string of interesting anecdotes, mostly on the theme that a little unstructured disorder fosters creativity and innovation. And then the book just stops, as though the authors had run out of things to say. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Grace | 1/16/2014

    " good ideas but ended up stressing me out more than making great points about why it's ok being messy. a bit too anecdotal for me. and i think it doesnt address enough the psychological satisfaction people get by bringing order to their immediate surroundings. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samuel | 1/8/2014

    " An interesting and well-written book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Divia | 12/11/2013

    " Okay book. Some anecdotes about why Ps are better than Js (mbti) because premature optimization is the root of all evil. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie | 11/8/2013

    " I didn't need vindication for my orderly disorder, but if you do. . . this is it. I love the Marine motto, plan early, plan twice! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Saldanha | 11/2/2013

    " I'm on the right track !!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 12/13/2012

    " An interesting assessment of how a little clutter may be good for you, while a lot of clutter may be paralyzing, and how the organization industry is actually rather rigid and not very helpful to the average person. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 12/2/2012

    " I enjoyed this book -- it made me think differently about the way I live my life. It also made me cognizant of some of the systems that I use without thinking about them and their unplanned efficiency. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 11/23/2012

    " this book is about the idea that being unorganized *can* be a good thing at times...it is inspiring, but gets a little off topic at times "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tracey | 8/3/2012

    " plenty of examples from multiple disciplines, but not as coherent as I would have liked. Partial recommendation - library or leaf thru at the bookstore. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tara Totoro Rugg | 1/24/2012

    " Started this one - then realized the last thing I need is an excuse to keep my office messy. Since I am just settled in to a new office, I'm going to stick with keeping it more organized! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 12/25/2011

    " I liked this one so much, I wrote a whole entry inspired by it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Coral | 9/7/2011

    " The sub title says it all. Fascinating book about order and mess and disorder in our lives, our businesses and homes. It actually made me feel better about a few elements in my own little world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 8/22/2011

    " A refreshing approach to the over-booked, over -scheduled type-A life...that is mine. This book expresses how creativity flourishes in a less ordered lifestyle. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Haverly | 8/14/2011

    " Another one I read years ago but loved! Super entertaining and interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Haverly | 5/4/2011

    " Another one I read years ago but loved! Super entertaining and interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie | 10/26/2010

    " I didn't need vindication for my orderly disorder, but if you do. . . this is it. I love the Marine motto, plan early, plan twice! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dayle | 8/9/2010

    " Not everything needs to be nor should be organized and authors give some excellent examples. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eileen | 7/26/2010

    " Definitely interesting and great examples. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Coral | 7/8/2010

    " The sub title says it all. Fascinating book about order and mess and disorder in our lives, our businesses and homes. It actually made me feel better about a few elements in my own little world. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael | 6/10/2010

    " The book has an interesting thesis, namely, that interesting things happen in messy places. Unfortunately, by attempting to inject a sense of order into seemingly arbitrary Malcolm Gladwell-esque musings, the book's vista of the realm of mess is portrayed as a less-than-interesting place. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurie | 6/7/2010

    " I tried. I really tried. But I just couldn't get on board. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alaa | 6/2/2010

    " am not fond of self help books i find them very useless and this one proves me right. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 1/27/2010

    " An interesting assessment of how a little clutter may be good for you, while a lot of clutter may be paralyzing, and how the organization industry is actually rather rigid and not very helpful to the average person. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/24/2010

    " A string of interesting anecdotes, mostly on the theme that a little unstructured disorder fosters creativity and innovation. And then the book just stops, as though the authors had run out of things to say. "

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About the Author

Eric Abrahamson is professor of management at Columbia Business School. He is internationally recognized for his research on managing change and on management fads and fashions.

About the Narrator

David H. Freedman is a business and science journalist who has written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, Newsweek, and Wired, among other publications. He is the author of Brainmakers, Corps Business, and At Large, among others.