‘It’s a very very good book, full of wise counterintuitions and clever insights.’ – Brian Eno
‘Utterly fascinating. Tim Harford shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It’s a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up’ – Adam Grant
Messy: How To be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World 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, social science, as well as tales of inspiring people doing extraordinary things, I explain that the human qualities we value – creativity, responsiveness, resilience – are integral to the disorder, confusion, and disarray that produce them.
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 keep us from innovation. The book is an exploration of the real advantages of mess in our lives.
As I wrote the book, I grappled with the way Martin Luther King’s speechmaking style evolved from careful preparation to impromptu genius. I tried to tease out the connections between the brilliant panzer commander Erwin Rommel, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, and the primary campaign of Donald Trump. I interviewed Stewart Brand about the world’s most creative messy building – and Brian Eno about the way David Bowie would reject perfection in favour of something flawed and interesting every time.
I loved writing this book.
‘Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganisation, 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’ – Oliver Burkeman
‘Tim’s best and deepest book.’ – Tyler Cowen
‘Every Tim Harford book is cause for celebration.’ – Malcolm Gladwell
Take a look at my Messy-inspired reading list, and for a taste of the ideas and the storytelling in the book, try this:
‘“Messy” masterfully weaves together anecdote and academic work.’ – The Economist
‘Harford’s argument goes beyond aesthetics, resurfacing over and over in his engrossing narrative.’ – Maria Konnikova, The New York Times Book Review
‘[MESSY] plays to Harford’s prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better. I had encountered many of the ideas in this book before, but Harford pulls them together into a coherent narrative that helped me understand the relationship between disparate ideas’ – Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
‘Wonderfully easy to read.’ – Susie Mesure, The Evening Standard
‘A book that presents itself as an impossibly simple account of the virtues of a messy workspace, then builds to something extraordinary.’ – The Age
‘This absorbing book offers a different approach from instructional decluttering manuals by celebrating the successes derived from the unplanned, unscripted, and unknown.’ – Library Journal
‘His best book since The Undercover Economist… excellent.’ – Inside Higher Ed
‘Mr Harford has set his sights higher… deeply researched… highly readable.’ – Business Standard, India
‘Entertaining and insightful.’ – The Times
‘An intelligent self-help book… transcends the clichés endemic to the genre.’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘Brilliant book.’ – The Times of India
‘Embrace chaos to tap into your true creative potential… Harford deftly weaves together real-life examples.’ – Fortune
‘Vindication at last!’ …a highly organized argument for chaos.’ – Time