January 29, 2007

Are you a mess?

January is "Organizing Month". So, it seemed appropriate that I read the book A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman. I was under the impression that this book was about actual CLUTTER - as in all the piles o' crap lounging around my house. As longtime readers of this blog know, I have a family member who has a serious hoarding problem. Serious as in "Oprah Should See Her House" SERIOUS - entire rooms of her house cannot even be accessed because of the clutter and soon, her dining room will be the next victim. So, I have a constant paranoia of getting overwhelmed with junk because I've seen how too easily it can get out of control. I thought this book would be a good way to take a different look at all my stuff. However, this book turned out to be much, much more. Oh sure, it covered good old-fashioned junk, but it also discussed messy ideas, relationships, schedules, traffic patterns, Internet search engines, business strategies, art and even music. It examined ways mess can impact our lives - good and bad.

The authors make the valid point that sometimes, we throw away too much stuff, things that we will regret later not having in our lives. I can't agree more. I have given away things that I wish I had now - things that evoked special memories from particular moments in my life. The authors also make the point that there is a discrimination against messy people and again, I can't agree more. When I look back on my professional life, I remember specifically those co-workers and clients that had atrocious desks with piles of paper teetering close to the brink of disaster - I always thought distastefully what slobs they were. However, some of those very co-workers were some of the brightest and most productive that I have ever worked with - perhaps, they spent more time working and less time procrastinating? Furthermore, the authors examine how mess can affect relationships - and that hit close to home. X is a messy guy, I would prefer things to be more tidy. When we were first married, it was a major problem that had to be worked out. Over the years, we've established ground rules, but realistically, mess sorta rules our roost now. I've learned to be okay with it for the most part and to put my foot down on the certain things that really make my stomach churn.

This book made me look at the mess in my own life and I took stock. What am I okay with? What am I not okay with? Toys littering the living room? I'll live with it. Dishes filling the sink? Never. Piles of paper on my desk? I'll live with it. Mentally keeping track of appointments or the list for the grocery store? Never.

In short (notice how I put this at the end? after the cluttered review?), I liked this book - it made me think. It also forced me reconsider all the things I had considered "messy" and "wasteful". I should note this is a great book for discussion. I highly recommend it for bookclub reading since there is a wealth of points to ponder after reading this book.

And now? I guess I better start on that stack of mail that has been growing for the past 2 weeks. Gulp.

9 comments:

Leah said...

Interesting! I really struggle with messiness. My husband is very little help (aside from usually not being annoyed by it), but I find that I clean a LOT for a day. Then go a week or three (perhaps four would be more truthful) before cleaning again. (Aside from dishes and other santitation issues) So, well, we have a lot of dog hair, and piles of junk mail and stuff like that. It drives me INSANE, but I have such a hard time motivating myself to do anything about it. I tried flylady but haven't really gotten fully on board with it. I'm interested in reading this book now, though!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are opposites on the household status: I have to have things clean, but usually live with clutter, he crams things in closets and on shelves but doesn't clean. We both get on each other's nerves because I can't find stuff he's crammed away, but it drives him nuts that I don't put things away until I have time to organize them properly.

Anna

Modern Day Hermit said...

I must read this book, it looks very interesting!

My husband drives me nuts and I have equal ability to drive him ape-shit as well.

I tell you what, if he shaves and doesn't rinse out the sink again...;)

While I like my house to be spic-n-span, I must admit that my office is always a disaster. Right now I am typing while surrounded by technical books, mail, computer parts and World of Warcraft books and maps. But, I figure this is my space, there is a door and everyone can get over it, haha.

By the way, while I like a spic-n-span house, it isn't that way most of the time these days. Oh well anything growing will surely boost the boy's immune system. No?

Rozanne said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I read a clutter book a while back. I made some inroads and then abandoned the clutter-clearing project. It's very typical of me to start something and not finish it, which, I suppose, is exactly why piles of clutter impinge upon my life.

Anyway, good luck with your clutter. I have a feeling you'll do better than I did.

Blondie said...

That sounds like a good read. My biggest problem is laundry. I hate doing it. I claim this is because my laundry is in the basement. The scary shared unsafe basement. But I probably wouldn't do laundry even if the laundry machine was in my bedroom...

Diana said...

I SO could have written this. Well, except for the 'having read the book and all' part. Long ago, I finally realized that I would never change my husband and I could either deal with it or nag him into murdering me (although he would likely at least have to deal with that mess). So now, I nag a little and pick up after him to the extent that I can be OK with it.

Jenny said...

I'm the exact opposite of Anna up there - I'm the one who hates the clutter but am not all all that worried about how clean it is. I'm always stacking newspapers, cleaning up things that get dumped on the kitchen counter, loading the dishwasher. My husband, who usually can't find his ass with both hands because he never puts ANYTHING away where it belongs, is the one scrubbing toilets.

Photobug said...

How did you ever manage to stand my desk? My desk is ALWAYS a mess.

Jenn said...

*raises my hand* I'm a mess! Totaly unorganized. But I'd never go to the grocery store without a list. Sheesh!

I'd love to be able to organize my house....ahhhh if I only had the time.....

also, I wish I had the kind of friends who'd be interest in such a thing as a book club. =\