Free Your Mind and Your Clutter Will Follow

Seira Wilson on February 22, 2019
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Marie Kondo first came into our lives through her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Now she's entered our homes through the television.  A surprising number of us have been watching the calm, sweet, and incredibly polite, Kondo as she works with clients to clear their clutter and rein in their inner hoarder.  The folks getting rid of stuff? Not so calm. They are usually anxious and overwhelmed during the process (sound familiar?) but ultimately thrilled with the results. I'm trying to break my bonds of clutter this year, and watching Kondo's show has me even more eager to make it happen on my own.

Marie Kondo and Francine Jay (The Joy of Less) were pioneers in what now feels like a larger movement to pare down, and tidy up our homes and our lives. Today there are many, many, books available on how to organize, clear the clutter, and go minimalist.  Below are six new books that I like and am attempting to use.  Yes, I do need six books to organize my life.  Although, now that I think about it, I guess that goes against the whole principle of downsizing. I might have to call Kondo's show people after all...


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Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin

From the very first pages it seems like Gretchen Rubin is speaking directly to me.  Disorganization and mess create a sense of things being out of control and an underlying feeling of discontent.  Rubin's nine promises of outer order include a couple that really resonate with me: No. 6: Relief from judgement--I will invite people over more often if I don't have to spend days cleaning up for it.  No. 8: Possibility.  When there is so much stuff to be dealt with it's paralyzing. No. 4: Reduce guilt. Unused purchases, unfinished projects; once these things are gone, so is the guilt associated with them.  This is a book rife with inspiration. (Available March 5)


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The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals (Includes Refrigerator Labels) by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

This one has star power. The photographs and format are really beautiful.  There are pictures of Lauren Conrad's craft closet and Gwyneth Paltrow's kids' playroom.  Do not be alarmed.  These authors know what they're doing and they're here to help.  They help celebrities; they can help us.  I like that Shearer and Teplin offer up the low, low, bar approach.  Do one drawer. And give yourself a pat on the back. Baby steps will get the job done whereas jumping in the deep end will drown you in organization overwhelm.  This is also the book to get if you are already very organized.  If you don't have labels in your fridge but want them, this book is for you (and yes, it includes the aforementioned fridge labels). (Available March 19)


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Lightly: How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-free Life Lightly: How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-free Life by Francine Jay

Francine Jay has a special place in my heart.  She came to our office a couple years ago for the updated edition of The Joy of Less and helped me clear the chaos that was my computer stand and drawer (I wrote about it here).  This might seem minimal. I assure you, it was not.  Jay's new book, Lightly, not only addresses where we have too much in our physical spaces, but also how to let go of emotional baggage, and make our time each day feel more serene. The book itself has a calming aesthetic and Jay's concept of living lightly does not mean you will soon be living in a yurt.  Unless that feels good to you. (Available February 26)


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Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith

"...start thinking of yourself as Chief Home Curator."  I like that! Cozy Minimalist Home reminds us that while there is a lot of focus on getting rid of stuff, clearing our closets, etc., we also want our home to have style.  We can have it all by adopting some of the techniques outlined in Smith's book.  Cozy doesn't have to mean cluttered.  Sometimes we have to be open to a new design, or a new look in order to move forward.  Good ideas here for when you're done beating a path to the thrift store with donations and are ready for some style...


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Life Admin: How I Learned to Do Less, Do Better, and Live More by Elizabeth F. Emens

There's the physical clutter we can get rid of or organize, but then there is the clutter of daily life in the form of endless items on a To Do list.  Scheduling appointments, grocery shopping, fixing the toilet--it all adds up and can overwhelm.  I am the queen of the To Do list and am often overwhelmed by the daily drudgery of cooking, cleaning, and a myriad of administrative tasks at home that are on top of, oh, you know, working full time and showing up for my family. Emens' book is going to help me stop being a To Do list martyr.  Bring on the life hacks!


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A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto

The author is a Buddhist monk and the techniques he shares are those used for cleaning temples.  Matsumoto tells us that "daily housework is an opportunity to contemplate the self."  For me, this usually looks like leaving the dinner dishes in the sink and feeling guilty about it every time I walk by.  A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind is going to change all that. Masumoto's approach is simple and effective.  It's about having gratitude and staying focused on the task at hand, while also providing solid cleaning tips.  I will feel better if I just do those dinner dishes now, and the sense of pride and peace that come with staying present and not procrastinating will be reflected in my attitude towards others and myself.  The zen of cleaning. It's real.


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