The Gist

The Chaos Doctrine

Not so fast, neat freaks: The Undercover Economist explains how a cluttered space makes you work smarter.

View of a messy bedroom filled with books and other items at a home in San Diego on April 8, 2011.

Sandy Guffaker/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 632 of Slate’s The Gist:

Subscribe in iTunes RSS feed ∙ DownloadPlay in another tab
Slate Plus
members: Get your ad-free podcast feed.

Tidiness is tyranny, and Tim Harford is here to set you free. The author of Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives makes the case for routine-busting labor strikes, cluttered desks, and leaving your emails unsorted. He also explains why we’re smart to want scatterbrained musicians and orderly accountants. Harford writes the Undercover Economist column for the Financial Times.

For the Spiel, exciting times! Let’s dig into the Indiana tax code.

Today’s sponsors:

Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. Rocket Mortgage brings the mortgage process into the 21st century with an easy online process. Check out Rocket Mortgage today at

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Take a multisensory journey into the InterContinental life and discover the Empathy stories where you learn about other cultures and expand your own life simultaneously. Download the Empathy audio stories on iTunes.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at

Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.

Twitter: @slategist