Why A Better Mess?

For those who have been reading the blog for a while now (thanks to both of you by the way), you probably recognize Damien Newman’s “Squiggle” in the new logo (if you’re not reading this on the site, come by and check it out!). While Damien intended this as a visualization of the design process, a way to show clients how things, “might be uncertain in the beginning, but in the end we’d focus on a single point of clarity.” The instant I set eyes on it, something clicked and I’ve grown just a bit obsessed with the idea ever since…

The idea of slowly, but surely working towards being a better mess has become the way that I’ve working through the chaos that has always been present in my life and towards something that has always been elusive to me: focus.1 You see, mess tends to be my stasis with the universe. My neutral. When at rest, I don’t balance out, my scale tips in an unfavorable direction. This means one of two things… I can either accept that reality or I can work.

For a good long while, I let things tip, I accepted imbalance. As you can imagine, that didn’t get me very far. I got by, but getting by just isn’t going to get me where I want to go. I’m getting older, I have a family and the time came (as it often does) to get my shit straight… no easy feat in your thirties as you tend to lock into familiar rhythms.

The problem was I didn’t have a framework. I lacked a foundation to build upon and a way of moving one step at a time from uncertainty into clarity. I was overtaken by my mess and had no consistent way to work through it. No understanding of how to take the big and the messy and make it accessible and manageable. In other words, I had no idea how to make my life less of a mess.

I tried to take massive leaps forward, I grabbed a copy of GTD, and a few other tried-and-true self-improvement techniques but that got me nowhere. It’s not to say that there weren’t good things in all of these books (in fact, I use quite a lot of GTD these days), but I wasn’t ready. Cliche as it might be, I needed to crawl first and it wasn’t until I first saw Damien’s design that the way forward became clear.

I had to stop trying to rush from messy to spotless and deal with the fact that I was going to have to walk and not run my way out of the clutter. Improvement, especially self-improvement, is iterative. It is slow, often painful and if not thought (and rethought) through all of that effort will be for nothing. Without the right tools, the right tactics and the right direction, it’s just far too easy for me to get lost. I needed a path, a process to continually move forward. Mine is turning out to be a bit squiggly, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m moving ever so slightly towards focus. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to feel like a better mess.

Thanks to Damien for allowing me to use “The Squiggle” here on the site. I hope I do it proud. As for the rest of you, stick around. I’m looking forward to talking with you about the ways we can all make our messes a little more manageable.


  1. I think you can see how this might appeal to an ADHD mess of a human such as myself.  

8 Responses to Why A Better Mess?

    • Thanks John! It feels a lot better around here. It finally makes sense to me every time I look at the header. Hope to actually bring some of that wisdom you’re talking about one of these days :) Appreciate the encouragement!

  1. I like the new design, and am glad to count myself as one of your “two readers”. Har.

    It sounds like you have made a big step in your mind, with “I had to stop trying to rush from messy to spotless and deal with the fact that I was going to have to walk and not run my way out of the clutter. Improvement, especially self-improvement, is iterative.”

    Keep up the good work.

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