I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Banish Clutter Forever’ by Sheila Chandra. It’s a very well thought through book that gives you a helpful set of tools to make your home run more smoothly and be more aesthetically pleasing at the same time, tailored to your personal circumstances and individual tastes.
Chandra grew up in an unpleasantly cluttered-up environment and shows great empathy for, and understanding of, people who end up mired in overwhelming, seemingly-insurmountable mess. Much of the book is given over to exploring and dealing with the wide variety of personal fears, anxieties, mental health issues, unhelpful beliefs and unfinished business that can lead us to surround ourselves with ‘noise’, clutter and sometimes even squalor. The author’s voice is humane and warm, as well as being honest and practical. While there is some necessary straight talking you’re unlikely to feel that you’re being barked at, told off or pushed around, which is often the case with some of the other writing in this genre.
Rather than going straight for the daunting big picture, the author starts with something we’re all good at – not losing our toothbrush. Nearly everyone keeps their toothbrush close to where it’s used and near to other things that relate to the task in hand, such as the toothpaste, and it’s easy to clean up or put away after use. So far, so easy. There are then several different exercises that involve relocating your belongings to the most convenient places, grouping them with other related objects, getting rid of items that are no longer useful to you, and making it easy to tidy things away completely after use. These all help to build good habits and self confidence, going one room or even one shelf at a time.
A large chunk of ‘Banish Clutter Forever’ is devoted to getting your life more organised, rather than tidying up your material possessions. This gives the book an extra dimension, looking at your hopes, interests and aspirations, and providing a series of simple steps you can take to bring more enjoyment into your life, rather than spending all your time being reactive or getting bogged down in everyday mundanities.
This book is not about voluntary simplicity, it’s not about giving away almost all of your worldly goods, and best of all it’s not about following any cod philosphy or new age mumbo jumbo. It’s insightful, empowering and very practical, which works for me.