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When Organizing Isn't Enough: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life Hardcover – June 3, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Morgenstern, a professional organizer with clients like Time Warner, shares advice and anecdotal revamp stories for anyone who ever needed to clean out a drawer, closet or personal planner. Her guiding principle in fighting clutter, over-scheduling and bad habits is called SHED: Separate treasures, Heave the rest, Embrace identity from within, and Drive yourself forward. Morgenstern's chatty advice includes ways to let go, develop a "theme" for your future and "heave" successfully (with lists of places to send stuff). Her theory is that, although one may miss certain possessions or habits, freed-up space will inevitably open unseen vistas, allowing the new you to move forward. Morgenstern supplies timelines, entire chapters on living in the moment and breaking the mold, as well as quizzes and work sheets. She also examines, in-depth, typical emotional reactions to shaking free of the old, and encourages small steps toward revolution: "Don't be so quick to reenact the Boston Tea Party." Client case studies pose intriguing challenges, from obsessive email checking to good but unfulfilling jobs to an overabundance of shoes and accessories.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Absolutely brilliant!" -- Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"This book will help you to recognize what you really value in life so you can let go of everything that's keeping you from reaching your true potential." -- Larry King

"I've always been amazed by the way Julie Morgenstern can organize everything -- but until now, I didn't realize that included human minds, hearts, and souls." -- Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743250893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743250894
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read a lot of personal development books. There is more practical and useful advice in this book than in almost any book I have read. One area of advice I liked a lot is the Perfectionism Habit Breakers, a few of which are (1) Devise three approaches, minimim, moderate, & maximum, before jumping into anything, and opt for minimim or moderate whenever possible. This helps you to recognize there are more than two outcomes (disaster and perfection) (2) Rephrase the question "how much can I do?" to "how little can I do?" You are not cheating, you are preserving yourself for other tasks, likely ones which are more important and/or more enriching. (3) Stop doing other people's jobs. You can better use the time, and it develops them rather than sending the wrong signal. And, you can always provide coaching feedback later.

Very, very good book
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Format: Hardcover
I can't say enough about how great this book is! I had been in a rut for quite some time, and I didn't really know what to do next. Then I saw this book, and being a fan of Organizing from the Inside Out, I decided to give it a try, though I was kicking myself the whole way home from the bookstore because I bought "yet another" self-help book and I already had a ton of them. Thankfully I didn't listen to my reservations this time, because this is one of the best self-help books I have ever read.

I forced myself to work slowly through the process, reading one part, answering the questions and taking actions, then reading more. And now I stand back, looking at my clean house and schedule, and I have so much energy. Furthermore, I have tons of ideas for moving my life forward in new, exciting directions, things that never would have occurred to me with all of the obsolete clutter in my life.

As I mentioned, I had a bunch of self-help and organizational books (SHEDed those!!) and I felt this one helped me more for several key reasons:
*Picking a "theme" for the next phase of my life. I had spent months agonizing over which career I wanted to do, to no avail, so picking a general theme and not having to make any specific decisions immediately helped me enormously.
*Differentiating between "junk" and "obsolete stuff." My house was pretty much junk-free, but I had a lot of obsolete stuff. For example, I had a huge book "collection" (over 350 books), most brand new, that were still perfectly good, that I would never, even in two lifetimes, have enough time to read. SHEDing these books (keeping only the treasures) lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Morgenstern also guides readers to reflect on why they have acquired the clutter they have, which was very helpful to me.
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Format: Hardcover
This book works because the author more effectively deals with the psychological aspects of clutter and cleaning up - especially the pain of *gasp* actually getting rid of stuff.

What made the book so effective for me is the acknowledgment that some of our stuff isn't junk but rather hidden treasure. I was also able to forgive myself for the money "wasted" on some things because as the author said, the item served a purpose at the time I bought, but now I am in a different place in my life and I don't need it anymore.

You will probably get something different from the book - whatever it is that you need. But like me, you will find that this book really works (I have culled about 200 books from my collection so far).
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! Ms. Morgenstern has a completely unique perspective on 'clutter,' that takes the reader from looking at our physical space to living in the moment.

While she does recommend doing a certain number of specific exercises and tasks, mostly this gem of a book is about looking at your life NON-JUDGEMENTALLY, and simply sorting it out from an objective perspective.
One thing I love is that she does not recommend the somewhat judgemental 'chuck everything' approach. She instead wants you to look at your things, your schedule, and your habits - and notice what is relevant and what is outdated or detrimental to your present moment, now. I highly recommend this book. It is a fun read and a fun way to explore looking at how you set your life up, without making it wrong.

In conjunction with this book, I also highly recommend two amazing books, also about how to live in the moment and look at your life in a non-judgemental way: Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life and How to Create a Magical Relationship: The 3 Simple Ideas that Will Instantaneously Transform Your Love Life by authors Ariel and Shya Kane. These books are astonishingly excellent guides that address the mechanical habits we frequently learn as children and drag into our present, regardless of how relevant or un-supportive they may be to our adult lives.
These books dovetail wonderfully with Morgenstern's chapters on Habit 'clutter' and her lovely chapter on living in the moment. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the pirate's treasure map and shovel; use these to dig the hole and find the payoff: a free one-way trip from Stuck Island.

Six months ago, while I waited for the book to arrive, I entered the SHED cycle based on information in other reviews of this book. During that week I second-guessed the order - couldn't I declutter and get unstuck without it? The answer is "yes" - after all, the author got unstuck years ago without having this book, but not systematically: she had to figure it out over a period of years. I made a big declutter a couple of years ago but it wasn't on the scale Julie recommends. Although my home looked better, my life didn't get noticeably unstuck. Clearly I needed a systematic, tried-and-refined method. This book offered it.

This systematic program allows you to be productive quickly but, because you are doing some intensive psychological rearranging, you must allow for organic evolution. For me it wasn't a matter of doing Step 1, then Step 2 in linear fashion, as the book suggests. There were several steps going on simultaneously. For example naming my theme was not a simple one-week task, even with the helpful examples; it was continually refined thoughout the SH steps.

I naively thought I'd finish all the SH steps within a month or two, but I had to rest after each stagnant area because I was drained. It's not like I had a ton of stuff but there were some significant dead zones. I worked hard throughout Spring and Summer.

Then a couple of curious things happened with no effort on my part: I was transferred to a new job in a less dysfunctional setting and a friend told me about a new beginner-level class that I had been unable to find earlier. This class was perfect for launching the shed's ED phase.
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