207 of 210 people found the following review helpful
A friend told me that "You own the thing; then the thing owns you." So true. This is not an organize-your-possessions book as much as it is a pare-down-your-possessions book. In fact, Aslett refers to storage cubbies (china cabinets, desk organizers, closet racks, shadow boxes, extra shelves) as "junk bunkers," irrestibly beckoning us to fill them up, and he refers to "things and stuff" catalogs as "junk pornography." If you're like me, you'll be ready to throw out half your possessions when you finish the book. When I was reading this book (not at home), I was dying to get home & start cleaning out drawers & closets -- When I got home, I immediately ran to my spare bedroom closet & loaded up thirty-three beautiful but seldom-worn and too- tight dresses for Goodwill. I was equally ruthless with books I don't read, nail polish I don't use, plastic cups, old race tee shirts, stuffed animals from high school boyfriends, old lamps without shades, my ten-year-old skis and boots, old ice skates, ratty towels, clothes to "paint" or "work" in. The boxes of "stuff to sell on e-bay" (that have been int he garage for months) have been redesignated "stuff for Goodwill."
Aslett shows how cluttering your life with stuff really gets in the way of enjoying life. He points out the burden that results from excessive ownership -- pointing out the fallacy of acquiring inexpensive (or "free") things that cost us much more in the long run, the problems created by owning several of the same item (when one would suffice), for saving things for the future.
Aslett doesn't advocate stark minimimalism or an all-out blitz; he does have some sympathy for things to which you may be emotionally attached -- but he suggests ways of evaluating and miniaturizing junk (saving a scrap of fabric or a button from your prom dress, rather than the whole thing). He doesn't judge whether your possessions are treasure or junk; he gives you the framework for deciding whether YOU are better off keeping an item or getting rid of the item.
This isn't a new age simplify-your-life book, but Anslett doesn't hesitate top explain (near the end of the book) how filling your life with junk (possessions, food, draining "friends") can lead to depression and anxiety. It's laugh-out-loud funny in parts, readable, and painfully honest. Read it -- Goodwill, Salvation Army, Bottomless Closet, Disabled Veterans -- someone will be glad you did.
160 of 168 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 1998
Don Aslett doesn't know me, but he has influenced my life perhaps more than anyone. When I first started out in life, I was carefree, happy, and serene. I slept at night. Over the years, I found myself with a lot more things, but a lot less happiness. I tried "looking within", but it was all the stuff "without" that was making me depressed. Then someone gave me a copy of this book and I realized that I didn't need to suffer anymore. Although my home was clean, it was cluttered, as was my schedule, my life, my whole existence. During a big move, with Don Aslett's encouragement, I sold or gave away almost everything except those few precious things that really mattered to me. In my new (all white) house, I brought in only the bare necesseties and only objects that I felt I couldn't live without. My home looks beautiful now - light and airy. I dejunked my schedule and some not-so-good acquaintances and learned to say NO!. Since I had no junk to take care of, I had time to get a couple of degrees, learn to play the piano, and really have fun with my man and our child. I have read every one of Don's books - he has an incredible sense of humor and love for life. Don, you are the saint of orderliness and peacefulness. God bless you - and thanks for giving me my life back. Dr. D.
83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
I first came across this book in the mid 80's.It is the best book on the subject of de-cluttering your life that I've ever seen.It was first published in 1984,and has been on bookstore shelves ever since.Just look at the reviews here;they go back for years.
Don Aslett has been billed as America's Cleaning Expert for at least 25 years.He started in the building cleaning business while in university,and by the time he graduated he was employing many to work for him and even had a fleet of trucks.He is so proud of his profession that he travels around the country carrying a briefcase that looks like a toilet.
In this book, he gives you the benefit of all his years in the business.You quickly learn that the biggest element in cleaning is dealing with clutter.
He is so good of taking the ordinary things that clutter up our life and sap our strength,and writing about it in such a humorous way ,that you'll have tears coming from your eyes from laughter.
It is almost uncanny how he addresses every excuse we've ever used to convince ourselves that clutter is worth keeping,sorting,arranging,storing,piling,labeling,boxing,hanging,stacking,packing,guarding,cleaning,keeping as spares,keeping in case someone else might want it,and on and on.
I was showing this book to a neighbor who has a double car garage ,and can't put any of his three vehicles,with a combined value of over $150K ,inside out of the searing sun in the summer and snow and ice of the winter;for the simple reason ,it's full of clutter.If you think Aslett's examples are exagerrated,this fellow has boxes of National Geographic magazines the Thrift stores won't even take.He even showed me a box of marine charts he collected when he had a boat.The boat's been gone for 15 years.He offered them to me;but No Thanks!Oh well,I'll just keep them,someone might use them.I asked him if he still had an anchor.He thought for a minute."I'm sure I do...somewhere.Do you want it? " No,I said,just wondering.
You have probably seen other books on getting rid of stuff,also numerous magazine and newspaper articles;but this is the real bible on the subject.Why else is it still being sold and reviewed after 20 years?
Aslett has been a popular speaker on the subject.He has also written books,"Is There Life After Housework" and"Do I Dust or Vacuum First?" He has also put out tapes that are hilarious.
His books are full of quotes and one of his best tests to evaluate if something is junk,just try to give it to someone.
I have a friend who often says;"Everything you get,takes looking after." That about says it all.
In the end,you may not learn too much from this book;it is intended to motivate you,not teach you.Everyone knows junk when they see it;getting rid of it is the challenge!
Here's to de-junking your life.
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2004
I've read and re-read this book a dozen times. Each time I gain something new, either a strategy for getting rid of junk. Or motivation. On the surface, it's a fun book with great illustrations, and info broken down into small bits. You can pick it up and start reading anywhere. But as you read, a philosophy emerges. I think its point (and any good book on decluttering) is:
1. Find out what is currently important in your life;
2. Get rid of the things that don't contribute to that;
3. Take good care of the things that remain.
Easy to say, but hard to do when you're looking at a closet overflowing with stuff.
The thing I like about Aslett's writing is that he addresses all the reasons people hold onto things. I mean, getting rid of your stuff can be emotional. It's not just the things, but what they represent. Like projects we've started, but never finished. (getting rid of them means admitting dedeat.) Keeping broken stereos and appliances in the garage, thinking we'll fix them (but never will.) Holding onto your dead grandfather's set of horseshoes (because you think getting rid of them would be disrespectful.)
The tragedy of clutter is that it distracts us from living fully in the present. And after reading Aslett's book, I was genuinely motivated to make some changes. Big changes. No, I didn't throw away everything I owned. But I did get rid of a lot. And I can safely say that I haven't regretted a single removal. The benefits have been that I appreciate what's left so much more (I actually READ the few remaining books, actually LOOK at the few remaining photographs, actually FINISH the remaining craft project, can actually FIND things when I need them.) The philosophy has trickled down and helped me be selective in my purchases and accumulating now. I only bring something new into my home now if it enhances my life. No more recreational shopping. What freedom. And I sincerely thank Aslett for this book, and his dedication to his profession.
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2004
Being a child of depression parents I have lived with and been overwhelmed by "clutter." Having had the phrase "you never know when you might need it" drilled into my head from birth, has made my life a living nightmare. The emotional struggle to give up even the smallest little item (which might be useful someday) has caused so much stress and frustration in my life and cluttered my brain that at age 45 I am an emotional wreck. I stumbled on "Clutter's Last Stand" while shopping at a second hand store (something which I am trying to get away from because it feeds that "something I might need" thought process) and just after reading the first few pages knew it was for me. I absolutely love the illustrations. Pages 12 through 16 show the genealogy of junk; how we are conditioned to become the junk collectors we are as adults. I could have written the chapter entitled "101 Feeble Excuses for Hanging onto Clutter" and I am the monkey on pages 28 & 29.
On page 38 it says "no matter how sharp you are, what you own, how famous you are -- if you eat, wear, live, and love junk it will cause ugly bulges somewhere on your person or your psyche." There is truth in that statement and I'll leave it at that.
Page 42 -- Clutter Makes Everything Take Longer. I knew that before I read it. I can never find what I want when I need it because things are never where they are supposed to be. By the time I find everything it takes to do the task at hand I'm either too tired to do the task or else I've forgotten what it was I was doing.
I highly recommend this book for other people who are children of "Depression Era" parents struggling with the same problem that I am.
It's funny and practical.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 1999
This book changed my life. Dejunking has become a lifestyle for me and my wife. Don Aslett shows you that alot of stuff we accumulate is junk, but he also teaches that other parts of your life can be cluttered-up as well. His no-nonsense approach to dejunking your *life* needs to be heard by so many people! After reading his book, I began to give every aspect of my life a hard, dejunking look. "Do I really need this *thing*?" Or, "Is this person someone I really want in my life?" Or, "Do I really need to eat this?" This book should be required reading in school so kids have a chance against this consume-happy society. Excellent book!
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2005
Decades ago, I was a new mom, and I was overwhelmed with housework. I read "Is there life after housework?" by Don Aslett, and not only was my house clean, but I had time to relax, and my friends were asking me how I did it. Then I got "Clutter's Last Stand" and started throwing things away. (I remember I had three cribs in the garage, but we had no plans of having more babies. And what about all those grocery bags under the sink?). I got rid of a ton of stuff, and I was able to not take in too much more stuff.
Years later, I went with a family member to help clean out an elderly woman's house. What a horror!! She had gone to the thrift stores for years, and filled bags full of clothes, then piled them on the beds and floors of her three bedrooms until you could not take one step inside the room, and the junk was piled six feet high. Also, every time she got the mail (for decades), she put it in a bag without sorting it, and put it in the bedrooms too. Love letters and old photos were mixed with sales flyers from years ago, and everything infused with silverfish. The bedrooms had not been used for 20 years, but the rats had chewed through the walls, and had been living in the clothes and mail all that time. When everything was finally thrown out, it turned out that one buried bed had fallen through the rotted floor and down to the dirt. We had to throw out the floor too. And the whole time we were throwing out pooped-on, chewed-up toxic trash, family members were saying, "No, you can't get rid of THAT!" What was the point of saving all that stuff? It made the bedrooms unusable, and invited vermin and disease into the house. Plus, if she had spent that money and time on decorating instead of accumutaing junk from the thrift store, she would have had three nice, usable bedrooms. In the end, all her "treasures" desintigrated to trash and had to be burned. When I got home, I revaluated the things I was accumualating. I want a pretty, peaceful home, not a huge trash bin. If I am not using it, I am getting rid of it.
Get Clutter's Last Stand now so your grandkids won't need pitchforks and snowshovels to clean out your bedrooms.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have purchased several books on organizing and de-cluttering, and while they had some good ideas and advice none come close to Mr. Aslett's books (Clutter's Last Stand in particular). This book makes you take a good hard look at your accumulating habits (not to mention all your JUNK) and really inspires you to get off the couch and start sorting and pitching stuff out (I have also donated much to local charities). I had attempted this on many occasion but somehow never cleared out everything because I was so attached to certain things. After reading this book I atlast have been able to get rid of things I thought I couldn't live without. It is such a wonderful feeling of freedom when you get rid of the clutter. You're able to see new possibilities in your life. I recommend this book to everyone.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2003
Let's get this out of the way first: I am a fan of Don Aslett's books. I have used Don Aslett's ideas more than those of any other writer on organization. His experience-based (he had his own cleaning business for many years) advice is practical, do-able, and entertaining.
Even so, I avoided reading Clutter's Last Stand for quite a while. It is different than his other books, more a meditation on the art of uncluttering oneself than an easy to follow how-to guide, like his other books. But somehow, it kept calling to me from the shelf of the bookstore where it lived, and finally I took it home with me. I am very glad I did.
In his usual lively style Aslett teaches you to have the mentality of an uncluttered person. Not a person who is a neatnik, which is a different thing, but a person who is attracted to things, who is easily talked into taking on unwanted volunteer work, who is sentimental about objects that have associations, and who has learned to say "No." The reader begins with the Junkee Entrance Exam, which has such devastatingly revealing items as "I have souvenirs or knickknacks that I dust, clean, store, and abhor." Self-knowledge is half the battle, so Aslett reinforces the lesson throughout the book with checklists to help you see whether "you have a serious junk problem." The amusingly illustrated chapters focus on different categories of junkitis, the most common and most devastating beliefs, attitudes, and fears that waste our space and time.
Finally, what is most helpful about this particular book, even more than the practical advice that it does also give, is that it gives you permission to get rid of everything that bogs your life down, including (and this was an epiphany for me) people. He does not urge you to discard anything that is truly precious, but if the memory is good enough, or the whining loser who takes up your days and nights would rather complain than try, give yourself space and time by getting rid of what does not truly contribute to the quality of your life. In this materialistic and yet duty-bound culture, this is hard to accomplish on your own, guilt-free--at least for someone who is not a sociopath already.
You may be impatient to get started, so go ahead, pick up one of Aslett's other books too. But be sure to read this one, or you will find yourself buried under all the clutter life can throw at you, animate as well as inanimate, all over again.
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 1999
This book forever changed the way I look at possessions. I tend to be a packrat, but after reading this book I was able to "let go" of a lot of junk and take loads of boxes to Goodwill, take other stuff to the dump, etc. Don Aslett is a very humorous and entertaining writer. His books are among my all-time favorites! I feel "lighter" in every way when my possessions are pared down. I reread this book every year or two to recharge and unload!