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Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good Paperback – August 3, 2010
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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From Publishers Weekly
Living in chaos? Professional Organizer Mellen has written the book to help. At 400 pages, it's not for the faint of heart or the semi-committed, but for readers determined to bringing their stuff under control. "There is no magic device, and you don't need to be rescued," Mellen assures, advocating ways of streamlining that don't have to break the bank. He begins by the front door, with creating a place to locate your keys and mail, and then moves through the house from room to room, starting in the kitchen; sentimental doo-dads (the most difficult to abandon) are the last to go. While Mellen at times ventures into Martha Stewart's turf ("Create a paint schedule!"), he's closer in temperament to his mentor, Oprah. For those having trouble letting go of their stuff, he says, "Identify with the willingness to shift your behavior," and move bravely forward. Despite dips into hokum, Mellen is not a sentimentalist, he's a tough life coach, and many readers will have trouble paring down as much as he'd like. But those willing to take even a small sip of Mellen's Kool-Aid may enjoy a more organized, efficient, and well-managed life.
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However, there were some cons for me. The second chapter had you find a home for your keys, purse and mail, and then spend a month just putting things in their new home each day. I already did this before reading the book, so I just moved on. I did not agree with the mail sorting system, I think it makes you process each piece of mail too many time - putting in baskets, then sorting from there again. I use the GTD method of sorting mail, there is no presorting. It just all goes in my inbox and gets sorted one by one. I never have to put trash or flyers in a bin, and then touch it again to throw it away.
But the biggest problem for me was that he asked me to take out everything from my kitchen cabinets. I have two kids (including a 1 year old who likes to get into everything) in the house and work full-time. I don't have time, EVER, to take out everything from my kitchen. I need a process that I can work on a little each day after the kids go to bed, and this was not it for me. I don't know how I would ever implement the system as he designed it.
I will take some positive things from this book, but will have to actually do the organizing drawer by drawer after standing back and assessing the best use of the room (as he helped me do in this book).
If, however, you're already (I guess) reasonably organized, you realize that your kitchen counters need to be organized according to workspace, you have a hook for your keys, and you've never owned more than one physical copy of a particular book, don't bother. This book is too facile for you. If you already have an in box for all those "action items" in your incoming mail but just need to figure out how to get through them consistently when you have a full-time job and a family, this book will not help you with that juggling act -- it will just tell you that you need to find time for it (big shocker).
The whole "organization as an approach to life" thing is fine -- unless you pretty much already live that, and are looking for some really helpful tips to organize, say, a small kitchen where you've already optimized the cabinet and counter space but still need more space or more organization. Apparently there are many people out there in the world, some very rich and/or with very large houses, who need the very basics of organization, and this author was helpful to them. To those of us who live in small urban spaces and already had to be somewhat organized just to live day-to-day, this book was old hat.
At least I already had taken one of the book's tenets to heart -- I checked it out from the library rather than buying it sight unseen, to avoid potential book clutter.