Two stories that illuminate how many of us think and work. First, two great, forward-looking, clear-thinking researchers have just written a book that saysbeing messy might just be okay:

The authors pooh-pooh the notion that they’re just slackers trying to justify their own bad habits.

Abrahamson is a professor of management at Columbia University’s School of Business who has written an academic paper on the benefits of messiness, and Freedman is a business and science journalist who has written for publications such as Newsweek. Freedman says their book is based on hundreds of sources, surveys and interviews with messy people and neatniks.

The book’s most compelling argument for the benefits of messiness and disorder is that they save people time and make them more efficient.

“There are people who spend all day keeping things in their places who really wish they had time to do other things,” Freedman says. “But they feel obligated to do this.”

As for the office, a survey done by the authors found that people who say they keep a “very neat” desk at work spend an average of 36 percent more time looking for things than people who say they keep a “fairly messy” desk.

“That’s because it takes time to put every paper in its place in a filing cabinet or folder,” Freedman says, whereas messy people tend to put things in “surprisingly sophisticated” piles that they can easily access.

Ya hear that? “Surprisingly sophisticated”!!! We knew it!

Meanwhile, social fumblers may as well just give up and send an email istead of trying to tough it out face to face:

Is there always one person at the office who acts rudely during meetings? Do you shy away from interacting with colleagues because you’re not good at office politics?

Maybe that colleague, or you, have trouble reading social cues .

[snip]Teaching people to read social cues is very, very difficult. So instead of trying to understand how to say things differently in a meeting, it might be more appropriate for these people to limit the time they spend in large meetings. Instead, they should concentrate on having one-on-one conversations or using e-mail.

People who are bad at reading nonverbal cues tend to fare worse when there are more people around, because there usually is that much more nonverbal communication going on.