What I found most valuable with this outstanding book was that it was about the motivation behind excess accumulation and cluttering. Unless you address this motivation, the clutter is bound to come back, even if you hire a professional organizer and everything in your home is perfect. All of the clutter will creep back.
There are so many outstanding points in this book. For example, with sentimental-type clutter, the author says that the most important thing is to separate the memory from the item. Then the item can be dealt with appropriately. You are not discarding the memory, just the item. Thus, if you have an overabundance of momentos, you can divorce the memory from the item, pick a few items that you want to represent the memory and truly honor them by displaying them in your home (rather than storing them in boxes in your garage), and discard (or digitally scan and then discard) the rest.
In my house, my husband has a wealth of pictures of his children when they were small. These pictures are filling boxes in the garage and our barn. We have all of their schoolwork and many personal items because he loves his children and feels as though throwing away one of their things is throwing away a part of them. They are now adults; however, until this underlying motivation for hanging onto things is addressed, all attempts at decluttering will be futile. For me, the whole book was profound. I'm great at organizing techniques, but the idea of looking at the feelings and problems sourcing the whole hoarding behavior was most helpful.
I am getting ready to declutter my house, as we are bursting at the seams and can no longer function well in our home. This is the perfect book to read to understand the emotional work and the letting go that must go on so that the process of decluttering can take place. Then whatever vision and purpose you have for your home can be implemented, and you can enjoy the space you have in your home. The book targets a huge consumeristic flaw in our American culture, and gives solutions.
I cannot imagine who would not benefit from this important book. Highly recommended.
on March 9, 2007
As a lifelong "pack rat", I have a problem with clutter. I have bought many books on conquering clutter. Some of those books talk about buying more stuff to organize the stuff I already have too much of. Other books talk about handling your clutter in different ways, such as color coding everything as a solution to cleaning up clutter. I am sorry, I am not going to go there. Still, other books ask you to figure out why you have clutter in the first place, as in psychoanalyzing yourself. Personally, I have not had much success at reducing my clutter by focusing my attention on my dysfunctional childhood or personal frustrations. It just does not work for me.
This breakthrough book, however, takes a truly novel approach to solving the problem of clutter and owning too much stuff. It does not talk about buying more stuff like organization systems or merely re-handling your clutter in different ways. Instead, the author of "It's All Too Much" asks you to look at the space you have and asks you what you want that space for? Simply, "wanting" less clutter in your life is too vague a goal. It reminds me of wanting to lose weight. Wanting and accomplishing are two different things as some wise person once said. In this short book, the author gets right to the point. The author asks you what do you want to do with the space you have. Once you establish what you want your space to do or be for you, you then have a clear path for reaching that goal. For example, is your home office accomplishing what you want it to do, or is it a storage area for things you either did not put away; cannot figure out somewhere else to put it, or; just cannot part with? Sounds too simple, I know. And it is. The author's advice reminds me of something a wise person once said about a sculptor. The sculptor sees a block of granite as a figure trying to get out instead of a just a block of granite. The sculptor removes all the granite that is not the figure they perceive. Simple, eh? Well, yes and no. This book is truly a breakthrough in helping you make that necessary paradigm shift in thinking to finally get your space to serve your needs. The author is a consultant on the cable television show "Clean Sweep", and shares his unique perspective on finally solving the problem of too much clutter. I highly recommended this book to anyone who has a problem with clutter.
on August 24, 2007
Better than FlyLady (which, to be fair, is great for what to do after the decluttering), because Peter really goes into the psychology of why it's so hard to let go of things and how to get over that. My house isn't a complete dump--I enjoy giving things away (here's my own hint: I've found that giving bigger-ticket items to a homeless-family shelter or a battered women's shelter is much easier than giving them to Goodwill... it's so much nicer to imagine somebody who's on hard times receiving a nice, brand-new, tags-on dress than to think about how my bad judgment is going to enable a fellow bargain shopper, who's not necessarily in dire straits, to get a ridiculously good deal), but my big problems are 1) letting go of things I haven't gotten my money's worth out of (i.e. stupid purchases that I hope will someday, somehow, be worthwhile) and 2) throwing out my kids' old stuff that has sentimental value. This book has really helped me reassess those two issues.
The book is packed with so many fresh ideas and approaches to stuff that what resonates with me isn't necessarily going to resonate with anybody else--everyone's going to have their own "aha!" moments--but my favorite one is the idea of value vs. cost; things may have a certain value, but they are costing you (in terms of storage space and, more importantly I would suggest, mental energy and frustration every time you see them).
This is NOT another book about organizing the stuff you've got--it's an incredibly helpful way of thinking about getting rid of stuff you neither use nor love. It's more than practical in that way. It truly is a life-changer.
I was brought up to be sensible, by sensible people, and wasting money (oops... I should say, ACKNOWLEDGING to myself that I've wasted money by getting rid of unused or underused stuff) is very difficult. But this book has really helped me get over that. Why cling to that careful-with-a-buck self-image (which probably isn't accurate anyway, or I wouldn't have all this stuff) at the expense of an organized, clutter-free, pleasant, livable home?
(Another hint: Although I cannot sing this book's praises enough, it didn't seem to include an approach that I've really found helpful in getting rid of the kids' sentimental things: taking pictures of anything that has good memories associated with it. That way, the things bring up the old memories but--especially if the pictures are digital--take up no room. Peter does bring up the critical point that the person is not the same as their things and that memories are not the same as mementoes. But for me, taking pictures is a useful transition.)
on January 24, 2007
I liked this book because it helps me, a not naturally organized person, have a lifestyle that is simpler, saner, nicer. I have many organizational books, and this one is pretty good. Some books want you to do so much work up front about why you got this way and how to not be this way (by spending a lot of money on organizing bins and products), that I am exhausted before I even begin the process. Clutter attracters need quick answers or they won't do the work required. At least, that's the way I am.
Walsh organizes the book into two main parts: The Clutter Problem, where he talks about the issues and excuses and finally, the possibilities of how to live clutter-free. Part 2 is Putting Clutter in Its Place, where he starts with surface clutter, then moves on through different rooms in your house, one at a time. My favorite part of the book is the New Rituals part, where he tells you, month by month, how to keep up with this clutter-free lifestyle. Because, for me, the hardest part (after starting) is keeping the clutter out and the organization going.
Other books you may want to look at are "Spiritual Housecleaning" (if you are into that) and The Flylady's new book(s) and web site. These have been extremely helpful to me and I no longer feel guilty that I can't have people over because of the state of my house. In fact, company is coming tomorrow and I'm ready!
"It's All Too Much"
on January 11, 2007
If you like Peter Walsh on CLEAN SWEEP, you'll appreciate this book. It's written as if he dictated it in his blunt, yet helpful voice, and I felt as if he was speaking to me throughout the book. He addresses the main issue of clutter: it's choking and smothering too many families and their homes, leaving them miserable in the place they should be the happiest. He presents logical arguments for why we should part with Grandma's china and Timmy's first drawings and shows his coaching technique when he argues WHY we just get rid of the stuff. My only concern with the book is that it's too short and lacks illustrations. Of course, maybe that would be too much. This book bridges the gap between the organizing books and the psychological texts that address hoarding and other complex emotional issues.
on April 15, 2007
I have read a dozen or so organization books, and most helped in one area or another, but there were a few areas that keep coming back to haunt me. After reading this book and spending a few hours a WEEK on these areas, my life has become MUCH less stressful.
Peter Walsh directs you to the reasons you acquire and can't let go of certain things. You choose the problem and solve it yourself with a few easy questions, which is totally different than any other organization book out there. The only hard part is acknowledging the feelings you have about objects, and why buying them makes you feel good.
If you ever ask yourself "do I really need this?" when shopping for ____ (insert your favorite item), this book CAN help you. And HOW to let go of things (where should this go?)
I could sort and shuffle things, put them on display or in clear plastic boxes so I could use them, but I couldn't tell what to just let go of, so I could have more breathing room.
If you need pretty pictures of color-coded, organized areas to make you feel better about your mess, don't bother. If you tired of those problem areas and are ready to tackle your issues, this IS the book.
THANK YOU, Mr. Walsh.
on January 16, 2007
If you're drowning in your possessions and it seems too much to handle, this book provides a great guide to turning your mess into a peaceful paradise. Unlike a lot of home organization and renovation books, it just doesn't suggest how to organize the stuff you have (which it does), but it gets to the bottom of the cause of the mess and clutter, shows you how much the clutter is truly costing you, gets you past the excuses, lets you see the psychology behind how things got so bad without making you feel guilty, and guides you to taking control of your space. If you have a large house or a small apartment, Peter shows you how to make what you have the best it can be, and how much a clean organized home can improve your mood, health and overall life.
I have some of the usual problems with enjoying shopping and enjoying the things that I own, but having a few too many of these things to truly find my living space useful, comfortable, and attractive. Add to this the fact that my partner is a total and incurable packrat, and you have the recipe for a couple that needs this book!
I checked it out from the library because I didn't think there would be enough practical info here to make it worth buying. I was wrong. Not only are there chapters that are broken down into steps and reasoned arguments for purging excess, but those steps and reasoned arguments are both pithy and substantial enough that I remember them and find them compelling even when away from the book.
As I walked through the house, the biggest thing I had to remember was that if I had a treasure, was I displaying it and treating it with the great respect it deserves? If not, then maybe it isn't as big of a treasure as I think it is, and maybe I could take a photo of it and get rid of it.
I also had to ask myself, am I holding on to things because other people gave me their treasure? Lots of people give me things, but if it isn't truly meaningful to me and useful to me, then I can either ask them if they'd like it back or get rid of it myself. If it were truly a treasure to them, then why is it taking up space in MY house?
There are a few exceptions to these rules of thumb, but overall he hits the nail on the head with his advice, and made me feel downright invigorated about getting rid of extra "stuff". After all, having craft supplies is meaningless if my craft table is so overstuffed that I can't actually do crafts on it, and the same goes for the other areas of my home.
This book is inspirational, practical, and worth more than one read. Thumbs up!
I read a lot of books on organization, and it is kind of a hobby of mine. Most people would have considered me very organized before I had kids. Now I have organizational challenges stemming from them and the stuff I inherited after the deaths of my parents and in-laws. I bought this book hoping for some new ideas. I'm giving it three stars because his pep talk is helpful in motivating me to get going, but I found his solutions ultimately unrealistic. There's a reason that they keep the Constitution under glass and don't just post a picture to "honor" it - there's a human desire to touch history, and that includes our own. There's a power in holding something that your deceased loved one lived with that no photo can capture. This seems to totally escape Walsh. To keep only the things we need today denies a large part of our histories and who we are and strands us like travelers in some wayside inn which may be pretty, but it isn't home. There have to be limits, of course, but there also have to be better strategies than he proposes. Almost worse is the subject of kids' toys. He ignores the reality of the kinds and amounts of toys most kids have - to suggest limiting kids to several "bins" ignores the shapes and sizes of pony castles and Barbie furniture (or shoes!). His solution is tidy, but useless. Maybe if my house looked like a candidate for Clean Sweep I'd be willing to do as he suggests, but I think I'll pass on most of his ideas.
on July 12, 2007
I am in my 50's and now married for the second time after being single for 12 years. Both my new husband and I had two houses worth of belongings before we started. I was having a tough time just getting a handle on where to start. To help, I bought and read many organizing books. This one was the one that was the most helpful. I know that part of the basis was that we didn't need just organizing, we needed to get rid of stuff. We have now done two rooms, our office (took three weekend days) and our kitchen (only two days) using the fast start and then the clean sweep techniques. We still have not gotten to making the functional charts for the rooms, but that will be next. I am already begining to feel calmer and less overwhelmed by stuff. It was easier than I thought before we started. This book was instrumental in getting us on track to get the work done.