Documentarian responds to messy minions

Josh Freed, the man behind My Messy Life, wrote a piece for the Montreal Gazette in which he highlights some of the reactions he received about his film. (I wrote about this documentary a couple weeks ago here.) From the article:

In the program, I revealed my extraordinarily messy office, then visited some stupendous messes with similar “order disorders.” I also teased neat freaks for their obsession with closet organizers, desk organizers and other weapons of mess destruction.

Since then I’ve been inundated by almost 100 letters, mostly from Gazette readers eager to talk about (or rationalize) their own disorderly conduct. I’ve become the man to whom you turn to confess your mess – and the leader of a budding mess liberation movement.

Freed defends his messy file system, or lack there of, while doing so in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Calling himself the “Messiah of Mess” he highlights the his new followers’ reaction to his documentary. While Freed will receive no love from us at Unclutterer, he did admit to tidying up his office after the documentary was finished filming.

The other day I went in and did seven hours of spring cleaning and repiling so I finally know where everything is again. I threw out seven large bags of stuff – and felt great. But trust me: If you walked in, you’d never know the difference.

That’s a good first step, sir. Maybe there is hope for Freed just yet.

11 Comments for “Documentarian responds to messy minions”

  1. posted by Zenplease on

    Messy, messy.

    I am having a contest at my blog with a prize, check it out:

  2. posted by Sheryl on

    HAH! So he admits that he COULDN’T find everything in that mess! (I’ve always been skeptical of messies that insist that they can…)

  3. posted by lana on

    Josh seems to have a good sense of humor about all the joking done at his expense. You gotta admit, some of those comments are pretty harsh. It’s almost as if looking at his mess makes some people feel hostile.

    Methinks Josh doth protest too much. If he “did seven hours of spring cleaning and repiling” and “… threw out seven large bags of stuff – and felt great,” he’d probably feel downright orgasmic if he ever finished the job.

    If he’s so happy living in all that mess, why bother cleaning at all?

  4. posted by Steve on

    Why do neat freaks have to act so bloomin’ superior and judgmental?

    He likes his space, and you don’t have to live there.

    In case you’re wondering, I do enjoy reading unclutterer for the occasional good tip.

  5. posted by Rae on

    Having things extremely messy around me makes me feel uncomfortable, like I can’t find a peaceful place to relax in my own house. With that said, while I adore getting things organized, and would love to always have everything in its place, I think it he’s happy, then so be it. When I die, my last thought will most assuredly not be regret for the dishes in the sink, or the magazines on the coffee table. (OK, with that said, too, I do feel like all of his papers and piles could be a fire hazard.) Love the site so much – thanks!

  6. posted by Tania on

    I tend to agree with Steve. I don’t know that all organizational folks are “superior and judgemental” but those comments certainly seem overly concerned with what someone else is doing. I couldn’t live like that, but it doesn’t impact my life at all that he does. So if he’s mostly content with it, where’s the bother?

  7. posted by Alex Fayle on

    If you speak with any Professional Organizer, “superior” and “judgmental” are two words we never use in conversations with clients or potential clients. If a PO has these attitudes, she or he won’t have many clients and won’t stay in business very long. We only organize people who want to be organized. It’s not something we would ever force on anyone else.

    If you read comments that attack this man, they are likely from people who are naturally organized and just don’t understand what can lead someone to live like he does.

    As a Professional Organizer, I would have only two comments for this man:

    1. If you are happy and comfortable with what you have, then great for you and continue as you are.

    2. But, if you were to die tomorrow, would anyone else be able to access any of this information, and if not, how much work (or cost) are you downloading onto your heirs to sort/destroy your life’s work?


  8. posted by Hayden Tompkins on

    One thing I have noticed is that a ‘messy’ person can find things in their mess because often they have a very good memory.

  9. posted by Stephen on

    I would not like having a messy office it’s very distracting for me.

  10. posted by My Perspective on

    I don’t believe that ALL organized individuals are judgmental…

    I simply believe that they don’t understand that not everyone is as organized as they are. Sometimes there is a reason behind cluttering, like severe depression that lasts for years.

    I know that this is definitely true in my case. I lived in a cramped, hot, dirty bedroom for nearly 10 years in my stepfather’s home. There was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse. I developed psychological issues as a result.

    I became withdrawn and unhappy. I had been very neat as a little girl. That changed when I became a teenager, having to deal with the abuse that people dished out. Clutter somehow became my way of coping with life.

    I would help my mother at home, but I stopped cleaning my bedroom and bathroom as often. My clothes would pile up on the floor. The room would be hot, dusty, dirty, and depressing. It was a reflection of my mental and emotional state. My mom would scream and rail at me about it whenever she could.

    She is a very organized person. She told me that I deserved my stepfather’s cruelty. Imagine that…it was OK to mistreat me because my book was on the sofa upstairs, or because I didn’t know what to do with my clutter. The ironic part is that I probably would have never allowed myself to deteriorate this way had there been a more emotionally sound environment.

    She would say: “Well, maybe if you didn’t piss him off by leaving your stuff all over”…as if that justified his behavior. He is NOT an organized individual at all, so I found it puzzling. He literally collected hundreds of cologne bottles. My mother and I would sometimes dust them.

    I’m not saying she didn’t love me. She certainly did. She is a wonderful person. But instead of allowing my stepfather to call me a “pig”, instead of the emotional deprivation I was subjected to, could there not have been some type of compassion? My clutter wasn’t responsible for his treatment of me. He simply didn’t want me around. It was obvious from the start.

    She threw away a relationship with her only child for the sake of having a relationship with somebody who was violent and abusive. I’m now 25. My fiance is 39. I practically live with him now, but I still visit my mother. My bedroom at their house still looks the same. I cannot believe I lived that way. It was so painful. Deep down, I HATE clutter.

    But it was my reaction to the environment around me. My fiance recognizes that there is a problem. He tries to encourage me to throw things away. I love his small apartment. I want to make it clean, tidy, and beautiful. I’ve never had my own place before. I view his home (soon to be OUR home) as a type of safe haven. He lives a very basic, no-frills life and his apartment reflects that.

    He isn’t sentimental and doesn’t really become attached to stuff, whereas I do. Before we met, his apartment was pretty bland and boring. It still is…but I’ve added a few small touches to liven it up a bit. I try to be as organized and clean as possible. But at times, I feel overwhelmed because he doesn’t understand my situation. I don’t clutter the apartment but he unwittingly makes me feel that way sometimes. He always reassures me that he loves me, though.

    It doesn’t seem like a win-win situation when you’ve been cluttering for years.

  11. posted by Caitlan on

    You know, I only leave things messy as a deterrent to people (my family) going through my things. If I am the only one in the house who has a pair of scissors in a consistent place, someone will invariably abduct them. I am still not some minimalist goddess but I was surprised that once I moved out and could be assured that if a dish was dirty, it was my dish, and if a drawer was organized it would keep its contents, my space tidied up very effortlessly. So, I wonder about the motivations of people who don’t have those reasons and still have a constant mess. Maybe they don’t know what to do with themselves with the free time from streamlining?

    (I read unclutterer because I am majorly, majorly downsizing my living space and trying to do it gracefully. Um, this is the space but I have not even slightly started the project of weeding out my things and whatever. )

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