Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Josh Freed: Messy and Unashamed

DVD - My Messy Life by Josh Freed

My Messy Life, a documentary by Josh Freed, seems like a companion piece to the book A Perfect Mess. Indeed, David Freedman, one of the authors of A Perfect Mess, gets a fair amount of air time in the film.

And like the book, the film is a mixed bag; it's both amusing and aggravating. The most annoying part is the false dichotomy, where the speakers act as though the only alternative to an office with piles of paper (or piles of CDs) in such disarray that they keep tumbling to the floor is one of the pristine homes (with no signs of life) shown in so many magazines.

Professional organizers, contrary to what you might gather from the film, understand that some people are highly visual and need to have everything out in full view. That can be done in an organized way - so things aren't tumbling to the floor. And no organizer I know would try to change someone's space if they felt it was working for them (except perhaps in cases where the space truly puts the person's health or safety at risk, and even that gets tricky). If Freed likes his messy office and feels it works well for him, he doesn't need an organizer!

Like the Perfect Mess book, the Messy Life film strays into issues of messiness that have nothing to do with organization: the messiness of nature, the messiness of a yard that isn't the typical orderly garden, etc. At one point, David Freedman says that "Education should be messy," and I tend to agree.

The film was originally shown on CTV, Canada's largest private broadcaster, but Freed is now selling DVDs of My Messy Life for $20 (Canadian dollars or U.S. dollars), including shipping. If you live somewhere other than the USA or Canada, you'd need to check on pricing. There's an interesting interview with Freed on AOL.


Cynthia Friedlob said...

I read the AOL article, but, more significantly, I looked at all the photos. They are stunning!

While I could never survive in the chaos of those offices, as you said, if the people who work there are content, that's their choice.

I like the concept of the "border of order" but I wonder how well it works. If a person has a tendency to be messy, how is that tendency controlled in the rest of the house? What does Esther Dyson's home look like if she doesn't want to be bothered putting things away? Does Josh Freed's wife have to nag him to pick up his socks?

Also, even if a mess is exclusively paper, as Freed rather proudly proclaims is the case in his office, isn't there still a problem with insects? Yuck.

Thanks for the interesting link!

Jeri Dansky said...

Cynthia, in the film there's a couple who use the "border of disorder" concept. They share an office, with an invisible line down the middle. In the bedroom, there's her side (which she's arranged so it's the side you see when you first enter the room) and his side (with a trail of clothes on the floor).

I also just stumbled on this, from Esther Dyson on the Huffington Post on December 31, 2007: "My end-of-year resolution, for what it's worth, was to clean up my desk. I have already achieved it, and with it a nice sense of satisfaction going into the New Year."

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Isn't that Esther Dyson comment interesting?! I hope someone interviews her and finds out if she feels more productive.

I've just come off of a week-long spree of selling on Craigslist. I finally realized that my workspace is not an art supply store! So I sold a bunch of extra stuff because the empty space is more conducive to my creative efforts than yet another extra canvas or pad of paper or stack of mats.

I'm headed toward what I call "functional minimalism" -- enough stuff to do what I want and need to do, and with easy access to everything. That's dictated by the amount of space I have (reality). When I find I have difficulty getting to my stuff, or I have stuff sitting around that won't be used for a very long time, I know I have too much.