As anyone who’s ever worked in an office setting with me will attest, my desktop tends to be cover with all kinds of stuff. Aside from computer equipment and the other basic necessities, papers of various kinds dominate. That can include magazines, conference programs, and reference materials, but mostly it tends to be notes. In other words, while I do periodically clean it off, my desk is usually far from tidy.

If you’re anything like me, Messy by Tim Harford will make you feel a lot better about yourself. 😀

No, it’s not a book about messy workspaces, though there is a discussion of the how they can actually be more efficient. Instead, Messy is about how neatness, orderliness, and structure can actually be counterproductive. The book provides a series of examples of this in different areas.

Seeing as this is a volleyball coaching blog, I’m going pull out part I found specifically relevant to us all. Here’s a quote that got my attention.

The same benefits come from playing messy, informal games (a pickup soccer game in the park, with sweaters for goalposts) as formal ones (a timed game on a marked pitch with a referee). In fact, the informal game may be far superior in ways that we tend not to appreciate. Recent research has found a correlation between playing informal games as a child, and being creative as an adult; the opposite was true of the time spent playing formal, organized games.

I speak more on this topic in a separate post. For the moment, we’ll just say it’s worth thinking about how to put kids in less structured environments.

All in all, I think Messy is worth a ready. You could very well find parts of it directly relevant to your life and/or work.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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