Summer Book Club: Introduction

Front cover of the book Messy by Tim Harford

The thing that attracted me to this book was that it seemed a good antidote to the cult of super-organisation. I like to-do lists, I like feeling productive at work, I like colouring in. So I tried bullet journaling (spent too much time colouring bits in), I tried making to-do lists and project plans (spent all the time making the plan and no time doing it), and I tried working to a disciplined timetable to ‘get stuff done’ (first knock at the door obliterated that). I need a to-do list so I don’t forget important stuff but when it’s too detailed, I simply do nothing. Ultimately I am motivated by deadlines and a little pressure, and that doesn’t quite work with many organisational methods that do the rounds on social media.

A book about being messy sounded perfect. The introduction to the book celebrates spontaneity, whether it be provoked by adverse circumstances, or deliberately built into a speech (for example, not following the script precisely). That appeals to me – I like the idea of my to-do list forming the skeleton of my summer, the essential components and broad structure and form that guides things, but leaving plenty room to work on the rest as my whims allow. Yes there’s a risk of not doing ‘all the things’, but I am never going to do all the things I want to this summer and I’m better off accepting that now!

Questions if you’re reading along:

– have you ever found an organisation system that works and that you’ve stuck to beyond three weeks?

– do you think embracing a more spontaneous or messy style of working deliberately could work?

– what do you think about the main anecdote in the introduction (the piano one)? A useful reminder of the perils of demanding perfect circumstances for action, or not?

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