Tidying up a Clutter Collector

A number of years ago I attended an “Organize for your Personality Type” worksheet with my friend Carla. We are both pilers and like our belongings in piles where we know what’s in the pile and heaven help anyone who moves or tidies that pile. From this worksheet I learned that decorative boxes are great for piles because they contain and beautify the pile.  I felt validated in my “organizational style.”

I did boxes for a number of years… and then I got married to an “everything in it’s place” man. He has tried his best to keep his hands off my piles but when they spill out of the box and over the floor he cannot stand it and must at the very least straighten up the pile. I can see his point. It doesn’t look calm or tidy to have piles of papers covering my desk or spilling from a box in the living room.

All that to introduce my current book obsession – organization and minimalism. Here are some of the books I’ve found most helpful in my quest to create a calm and comfortable home which balances my need for piles and my husbands need for simplicity.

1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up


Where it all began.

I read this book after seeing it on the local library website and hearing about it on NPR. The author’s ideas are stunningly simple and practice.

I have tackled one area of our house at a time (as suggested) and find that once I get things organized I really don’t want to add items to clutter up the space. It really has helped me let go of many “just in case” and “one day I might need it” items.

Due to my teaching schedule, I tend to do these projects during breaks. This actually works well because it makes me feel productive over break and creates a more streamlined home for when I head back to work.

Honestly, I don’t do everything the author advises and I have not joined the Pinterest bandwagon of humble-brag photos of how organized my house looks with a hashtag of the author’s name. I also still have one box of photos and papers that I just can’t buckle down and sort through. I’m not ready and I’m OK with that, for now.

2. At Home with Madam Chic

athomewithmadamchicThis book is really part of my French Life obsession but it does double duty of giving some good advice for reducing wardrobe and activity clutter. It is very practical with the added bonus of giving daily routine advice to create a calmer life.

My take away idea from this book was daily routines are good and I can live with less clothes. It’s true. I only have 6 outfits for work and I just rotate through those outfits each week. If anyone at work has noticed they haven’t commented and it makes getting ready for work much faster.


3. Lessons from a Blue Bike

notesfromabluebikeThis book took me from thinking about clearing out clutter to reordering my life. The author does a great job of digging into the distractions and demands that create a hectic pace in life and addresses big and small ways to deal with those demands.

I appreciate her perspective on “American life”since she grew up in America but lived in several countries before settling back in America. She describes her attempts to bring what she learned from other cultures into her family’s American life.

My take away idea from this book was look for ways to buy local and fresh food.


4. Cozy Minimalist – Minimalism Redefined

cozy-minimalist-okdani-blogThis is a blog post I came across last month and I loved the author’s explanation of “cozy minimalism.” I have struggled with how stark many minimalist homes appear. This author explains that minimalism doesn’t have to be stark or boring. She keeps it real in her writing about her journey with minimalism and the realities of life.

I ended up reading a number of her blog entries which is always a sign of a blogger I can relate too.

My take away from this blog was it’s OK to want to be comfortable but don’t let things overwhelm your space.



5. The Joy of Less


I read this book last week while on winter break. It’s a very skimmable book with lots of good advice for each room of the house. The author has an acronym for the decluttering process and then applies it to each room of the house.

My take away from this book is surfaces should be clutter free. Not that they should be bare, simply that anything on a surface belongs there and is intentionally there. With this in mind I tackled one of my worst clutter spots – my desk. I limited myself to three items on my desk and threw away or organized everything else. It has created an area that gives me peace when I look at it instead of a feeling of “I have got to take care of that.”

All this organizing makes me realize I have to tackle my biggest area of clutter, my classroom. My new quest is to figure out how to have a cozy minimalist classroom.

Any suggestions?




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