Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Decluttering Inspiration

I'm often reading several books at the same time; typically they are all different genres and topics. However, I recently read two similar books at the same time, alternating between books over the course of a few days. Both books offer advice for decluttering and organizing, and both authors agree that when it comes to organization, lack of space is not the problem; too much stuff is the issue, so decluttering must come before organization.

I chose Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul from Booklook Bloggers (free in exchange for an honest review) because I was familiar with the author, Ruth Soukup, from her blog, Living Well Spending Less. (I actually received this as an eBook, which meant that items that were in sidebars in the printed copy often appeared to be out of place because they showed up in the middle of sections or even paragraphs on my Kindle screen. This occasionally made the reading seem a little disjointed, so I would recommend the printed version.)

Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul was an easy read with relate-able (to me) examples. The author used the acronym FREE to discuss how to become clutter free: Fight to stop the flow; Reduce by purging; Establish strict limits; Emphasize Quality over Quantity. She recommends working on  one or two small projects a week to effect big change over time. I especially liked that after she addresses decluttering in the home, she goes on to share ideas for decluttering our minds (creating a schedule, processing paperwork) and relates how Jesus has already done the work of decluttering our souls.

It was interesting to read her thoughts on scrapbooking and how many individuals quit the hobby because they got behind and became overwhelmed until easier solutions (digital photos, photobooks) came along. She made a great distinction between memories and stuff and how we don't need to feel guilty when we get rid of stuff because the memories remain.

There were some good quotes scattered throughout the book.

Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.
~Christina Scalise

Hospitality is not inviting people to our perfect homes; it is inviting them to our imperfect hearts.
~Edie Wadsworth

The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don't.
~Marie Kondo

I found that last quote interesting because the other book I was (re)reading for the April Simple Scrapper Online Book Club was Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Rather than tackling small projects, this book recommends tidying all at once, although the author admits that "quickly" typically means about half a year to work through each category of items (clothes, books, papers, miscellany, mementos). As I mentioned in my review last year, some portions of this book do not seem as applicable due to cultural differences and the collector side of my nature. However, the author does admit that "order is dependent on the extremely personal values of what a person wants to live with."

One idea that stuck out to me this time was her discussion of seminars and the materials that one client had amassed from numerous seminars. The client kept the material to review at a later date. Marie Kondo's statement that "a seminar's value begins the moment we start attending, and the key to extracting the full value is putting what we learn there into practice the moment the course ends" has me thinking about how/if I want to continue my goal of reviewing class materials from older online classes.

In the Simple Scrapper Online Book Club discussion, Jennifer Wilson shared this quote: “Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding." Applying this to scrapbooking, Jennifer stated that "the lesson here is that we tend to start with containers when it's most important to start with purging, then contain what is left." I haven't done a lot of purging of scrapbook supplies lately, but I do agree that it's best to see what you have before deciding what containers you'll need.

And finally, I have quite a few reservations about using the KonMarie method on books, but rather agree with this blog post about getting rid of books that states: "It’s a useful exercise to clear the cobwebs from one’s bookshelves once in a while, but don’t let anyone talk you into getting rid of your books if you don’t want to, read or unread."

Have you read any good books on decluttering lately? Or completed any decluttering projects?


  1. I don't know your first book but have read the second. I liked Marie Kondo's approach a lot, but did quail on the book front!

  2. I've read The Life-Changing Magic . . . and her second book, Spark Joy is on my nightstand waiting for me.

  3. I find it extremely hard to get rid of books. The only time I've ever managed it is when we moved house. And even then it was through persuading myself that if I sent them to the charity shop they would find another good home

  4. Spring & the annual jaunt into cleaning/decluttering. I get what everyone is saying both in your review of the books & blog comments. A few years ago I decided to stop buying books for a couple of reasons (a)cost & (b)space to store. What I did do was get a library card & borrow the books & in this process I developed a very good relationship with the ladies of the library. They often need to get books for me from our libraries so there is a wait involved, but that does not matter. So, in the end my comment (we finally get there) is that in decluttering our homes & untangling ourselves from things, we can make space for other good things in our lives, our homes & our hearts & minds.

  5. I'm currently reading The More of Less by Joshua Becker. So far so good. I glean a little from each new book on the topic and still hope to reach my goals in this area some day! This morning, while hurriedly packing for a last minute overnight to Baltimore for work, I pulled two pair of khaki style dress pants out of my closet that I haven't worn in over a year. I use the same two pairs of pants for every work function and finally letting go of the ones that were just hanging there!

  6. Unmade decisions - yep, that nails the problem firmly on it's head. I am figuring out that it is easier to deal with physical rather than digital version of that. This week I am finally recycling any and all magazines on Friday that have sitting around here. I have months, no years of them, that I have put off dealing with. So out they go just as my last subscription expires. Now dealing with unsubscribing online will take a bit more willpower. With the distraction of them gone, maybe I can make time to finally read Marie's book.


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!