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As a professional organizer I read a lot of books about organization and decluttering. I’m always looking for new ideas that I can share with my clients and incorporate into my classes. Even before I embarked on this as a career I enjoyed reading about the topic, and some of those older books have stuck with me and shaped my relationship with stuff. Here are five worthwhile reads to help with your own organizational journey.
1. The Simple Living Guide, Janet Luhrs – Years ago I was going through a difficult transition: getting divorced and moving out of the big house I had shared with my husband. I was living in a small one bedroom apartment, but instead of feeling like I had taken a step backward, being in a smaller space with fewer belongings brought me peace during a very uncertain time. I wanted to explore the idea of downsizing further, and that was when I came across The Simple Living Guide. To say this book had an impact on me is an understatement, as I can honestly say I might not be working as an organizer today if I hadn’t read it! It’s a bit dated (originally published in 1997), but still offers a vast array of information and inspiration for living a more deliberate, intentional life.
2. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz – Having options is a good thing, but having too many creates stress, anxiety, and regret. These research findings are presented in a very readable format in The Paradox of Choice, and this message has only gotten more relevant as online shopping and social media have exploded. This book taught me the folly of spending hours researching a purchase to find that “perfect” item, and the importance instead of finding a solution that is just good enough. If you tend to agonize over buying things and often experience regret afterward, this book is a must-read.
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo – This slim book struck a chord with many when it came out four years ago and it is still the one I get asked about most often. I think the appeal of the KonMari method is its simplicity: keep only the things that bring you joy and discard the rest. While not every technique presented in the book works universally – I still can’t get on board with her folding method, for example – her message of treating the things you own with respect is an important one.
4. Unsubscribe, Jocelyn K. Glei – If email overwhelm is killing your productivity, this book will give you practical tips for regaining your time and sanity. Rather than obsessing over attaining an empty inbox, Glei says we should instead focus on our most meaningful tasks every day. She also digs a bit deeper into the psychology of email, why we are addicted to checking it, and how to break that cycle.
5. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson – This book came out just this year and is geared toward those in retirement, but I think it’s a worthwhile read regardless of your age. Don’t be put off by the title, as this is a surprisingly cheerful book about the importance of clearing your own clutter, rather than leaving it for your family to deal with. I think the most important part of Magnusson’s method is captured in the word gentle. Instead of waiting until you are forced to downsize, take your time to slowly reduce your belongings in a gradual way. This reduces stress and acknowledges the emotional difficulties inherent in the process.
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