You Need to Get to Work!  By Daniel McGinn
Newsweek March 19, 2007 issue –

…In offices across America, we seem to be at a moment of get-organized-now hysteria. Time-management gurus have been preaching their work-more-efficiently systems since the days of Benjamin Franklin ("Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions"). But more people are searching for new techniques to speed through tasks. In the electronic, gadgetized age of e-mail, BlackBerrys and ever-more-sophisticated desktop software—all designed theoretically to manage digital information efficiently—we've become overwhelmed. That's where the productivity industry comes in. The question is, however, whether this newfound emphasis on productivity is helping—or just making us crazier.

A new and highly publicized book, "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder," actually argues in favor of chaos. Coauthors Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman write that neatness has become wildly overrated. The authors cite successful book and hardware stores with no rhyme or reason to the layout of merchandise, as well as inventors and scientists whose big breakthroughs came because of nonsystematic, improvisational experimenting….

Zack Edison, an Apple consultant in northern California, constantly hears colleagues exchanging efficiency techniques. "It's like everybody who's overweight is always talking about diets," he says. Both buyers and sellers of this advice attribute its growing popularity to the same causes. Companies have downsized, piling more work on fewer employees. More people are self-employed or telecommuting, giving them more discretion over how to spend their time. Workplace distractions are epidemic—especially as e-mail, once a blessing, has turned into an endless time-suck. A few years ago, discussions of work-life balance focused mostly on programs like flex-time; today, workers realize that no matter how flexible their employers are, most of us still can't go home until our work is done….