My Organizing Epiphany


A Life Less Cluttered  — doesn’t that sound enticing? 

When I came across Christine’s website, Organizational Enlightenment, and saw her new book, A Life Less Cluttered, I offered to do a review.  She agreed to send me a copy, and as soon as it arrived I dove right in.

I expected the book to be a manual of systems for organizing my life, but this book is not just another organizational handbook.  Christine puts it like this.

One thing that I did not want for this book to become was another organizational manual full of specific systems and processes (or skills) for organizing.  Chances are you’ve read many books on the subject and there have been many pointers and organizing tips that you’ve attempted over the years.  I wanted the focus of this book to be strictly on you and your organizing epiphany.

When I first saw that, I have to admit, I kind of snorted and rolled my eyes.  Cause I’m so ladylike and refined.  And also.  Because I have not read a lot of such books, and that is actually what I was wanting from this one.

But as I read on, I realized that the reason I am not as organized as I would like to be isn’t because I don’t know the skills and systems.  In chapter four, when she listed the various types of clutter hounds (no, Christine does not refer to her readers as clutter hounds, that is my paraphrase) I realized that I don’t fall into any of those categories.  I’m not a Saver or a Gifter or a Shopper or a Collector. 

(I know you are all thinking, Delusional much?   Of course you’re a shopper!  But she’s not talking about the kind of purposeful shopping that I do.  She’s talking about the kind of shopping where someone can’t turn down a good deal and buys things they don’t need or really even want just because they can’t pass up the sale and then keeps everything around just in case they might need it in ten years — that type of shopper.)

Any-WHO.  As she explained methods that should be in place before you can have an organized home, I realized that I already do most of those things.

So why am I not as organized as I want to be???

I guess you could say I had my "organizational epiphany" in chapter 11.  When I read the quote from Barbara Hemphill of Taming the Paper Tiger, "clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions," I realized THAT is the root of my problem.

I am so indecisive, and I get so overwhelmed with trying to decide where things should go that I just leave it all out for another day.   I procrastinate because I don’t know what to do with it.  And it’s easier to just pretend like it doesn’t exist and go sit down at my computer and read blogs.  I kind of knew this about myself, but to hear it put so succinctly makes me realize that this characteristic is the cause of my frustration with my disorderliness.

Christine doesn’t leave me high and dry.  Although she says this book is not full of organizational systems, and this is true, she gives very practical advice on how to set up an efficient and consistent system that will work for your individual situation IF you’re willing to follow it.

Then in chapter 14, I had my second epiphany.  When my house gets really out of control, it is only because
I am too lazy to put forth the time and energy to keep up with the
systems I already have in place.  I don’t need better systems necessarily.  I need more self-motivation.  And this isn’t something that Christine can help me fix.  This is something I have to find within myself.  But she does give some helpful tips for time management and reminds us that if we keep our goals in mind, we will be more motivated to do what it takes to achieve them.

As for the rest of the chapters, much of her advice is very near and dear to my heart, and I found myself yelling Preach it, Sistah! every time I came across another piece of advice that I liked.  But I had to stop because my husband was starting to look at me strange.

I would love to reiterate all these fine points to you, but then you wouldn’t have a reason to go buy her book, now would you?  If you have ever struggled with organization, A Life Less Cluttered is a great place to start.  (And also, Christine’s webpage, Organize It Today details a full list of all the services she offers.  If you are frustrated with your lack of organization, you will want to check this out.)

And now for the fun part!  If you would like a signed copy of Christine’s book, I will be giving away my copy.  It is in pristine condition; I only read it through one time, so it’s like new.  Just leave a comment and tell me if what your biggest organizational hurdle is.  On Friday, I will choose one person to receive the free copy.  And the rest of you can purchase the book through Christine’s store.

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Obligatory Disclaimer: I receive no compensation for reviewing products on my blogs.  The only thing I get is a free product, which I sometimes keep and sometimes giveaway.  I promise that everything I say in these reviews is my honest opinion.

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34 Responses

  1. I would love a chance to read this book- and then pass it on to my mom. She is really organizationally challenged (way to throw her under the bus!- but she knows it). Great reveiw.

  2. My biggest organizational hurdle is similar to yours – procrastination and motivation. I have been needing to organize my closet for years but I don’t know what to do! So, it remains the same. If this book helped you, I would love to read it also because none of the organizing books or blogs I’ve read has managed to motivate me yet! Thanks for the review!

  3. This book sounds interesting! I actually just spent the last month de-cluttering and organizing room by room in the house. I feel SO great! In fact, later this week I’ll be posting some pictures. Please stop over at my blog and see the results. I’m tickled pink!

  4. OK – my organizational hurdles – primarily running a business and a family out of a small 2 bedroom house when we have too many hobbies that require lots of gear (hunting, scrapbooking, sewing, fishing…) I keep trying to be organized then I get frustrated and procrastinate some by reading blogs 🙂

  5. That book sounds like a great find! Please enter me in the drawing for the give away!

    My biggest hurdle is KEEPING things organized and clutter free, ESPECIALLY paperwork. MY GOSH the paperwork. I could REALLY use an epiphany in that arena! And I totally agree with the ‘postponed decisions’ I am SURE that is part of my problem!

  6. WOW!! I really need this book. I have 4 precious children with tons of papers that come home that need organizing! I am also a procrastinator. i hate throwing away because I am afraid I will need something later. Thanks for the review. I would love to read this and then pass it on to my sister. Thanks.

  7. Biggest organizational hurdle? You name it! I’ve been trying to work on this, but it seems I’ve inherited some hoarding traits from my mother, and already passing that on to my 3 kids. Also cannot get the kids to pick up after themselves, or just put something away when they’re done with it, so I spend the majority of the time doing that, and then I’m too tired to finish the decluttering! I need the help of this book!

  8. Oh my gosh! You so freaked me out! I was reading your review and sitting here, with a pile of dirty laundry at my feet, a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded, a desk covered in papers and a dinner that needs to be made. What you said about the procrastination is EXACTLY me and my hurdle. You said it best — “I procrastinate because I don’t know what to do with it. And it’s easier to just pretend like it doesn’t exist and go sit down at my computer and read blogs.” Which is exactly what I’m doing, by the way! How did you know? You described me so accurately, it was as if you were in the room! 🙂 Anyway, I’d love the chance to read the book too. mlciavola(at)yahoo(dot)com.

  9. As ridiculous as it sounds, I have found my organizational downfall is perfection. If I can’t do it as “perfect” as I want it, I don’t do it at all. Such as the mail. If I’m not able to go through it all right now, I don’t do any of it, etc. This creates a lot of projects being put off, instead of just working at a slow pace to get them done, or ‘settle’ for something that is at least better than before.

  10. My biggest hurdle is SERIOUSLY getting my family on board with MY organization. They drop their stuff EVERYWHERE and don’t put things in their places (that I’ve spent countless hours preparing)….they do a great job, but COULD BE BETTER. 🙂

    Kelly S.

  11. I guess my biggest hurdles would be motivation and procrastination. I get really overwhelmed by the clutter and end up moving “piles” around. My mom organizes my house every time she comes over – it drives my husband crazy!

    P.S. I missed the Sunday Scripture today!

  12. My hurdle? Honestly I think it is that I get these grand ideas in my head and they overwhelm me. Like I think the entire house has to be SPOTLESS all at one time – top to bottom, back to front and if I can’t do all that in the allotted time, I think “eh, forget it.” I have that all or nothing mentality bad.

    I am also fantabulous at the procrastination. It should be a sport.

  13. I found your post really helpful b/c I’ve always tended to be an organized person but with the addition of kid #3 I feel like I need an organization intervention. But I really think that procrastination is my major foe right now.

    My next challenge is what I like to call knocking over the dominoes. We are getting ready to move our home office that has been housed in a spare bedroom downstairs into our living room. That job alone is enough to make me hyperventilate. Then we’re moving kid #3 into that spare room and his room will become kid #2’s room. She is currently sharing with #1.

    Basically, it involves me reorganizing and moving around my entire house and I’ve been PROCRASTINATING because the thought of tipping that first domino is enough to give me nightmares. But I’ve been a little motivated over the last week so I’ve started cleaning out the office and making it a lean, mean moving machine.

    Baby steps. (quick, what movie is that from?)

  14. My hubby and I are both pack-rats, and can’t seem to get rid of the stuff that owns us. We are expecting our first baby in May, and I’m really nervous that we’ll somehow lose the baby in the junk! I think my biggest hurdle is also lack of decision…only slightly ahead of being married to a man who is almost as much of a slob as me! 🙂 We’re not THAT bad, but I like the idea of organizational epiphanies. Oh, and exacting the change I read about.

  15. oh thank you so much for the Monday morning slap in the face!
    “When my house gets really out of control, it is only because I am too lazy to put forth the time and energy to keep up with the systems I already have in place.”
    I guess I need to go and do the things that I should be doing rather than sitting at the computer reading blogs. (Don’t ask how many things I should be doing. Too many!)

  16. This does sound like a good book. My biggest hurdle is not putting things away the first time. Maybe I’m too lazy to take an item upstairs or downstairs to it’s rightful home so I pile it up on the kitchen counter or on the stairs with all sorts of other things that belong elsewhere. Before long I have a mountain of things to put away that would’ve taken much less time had I just done it in the first place. Make sense? And in the meantime I have to look at all this stuff that is cluttering the place up. Drives me crazy! But like you said it’s a mindset that I have to come to on my own.

  17. I totally agree with the indecisiveness issue. I have piles everywhere and I can’t decide what to do with the stuff! Oh, also I have 3 daughters under 6 who are great at making their own piles. This sounds like a great book!

  18. My biggest hurdle would be the just doing it part. I can write lists, think up ideas, find great systems/plans but then don’t DO it. And when I do I don’t stay very consistent with it. SO there ya go. This sounds like a great book & I’d be very interested in it. Thanks!

  19. Can I have it? Please, please, please????

    I can so relate to the postponed decisions. That’s me too – I discovered this from the book I love called Getting Things Done. He talks a lot about turning things into “action” items. So, you don’t put “Get house painted” on your list – you put the next action. Such as, discuss budget with husband, ask Suzie for painter referral, etc… That has been life-changing for me.

    My next challenge is to FIND TIME to go through the clutter from the years of indecision!! 🙂

  20. My biggest organizational hurdle is trying to keep up with laundry…sorting, washing, drying, hanging, folding, putting away, etc!

  21. My biggest organizational hurdle is similar to yours, with the postponing of decisions. It’s not that I don’t have a place for everything, it’s that I don’t want to deal with it, then it gets way too piled up and I spend too long attacking what would have been manageable had I done it in little steps! I think this sounds like a great book to read!

  22. I would have to say my problem is not getting overwhelmed when my house is out of control. Which by the way is all the time! I hate to clean and organizing is something that I truly feel would help me keep up…Preach it sista!

  23. Definitely a procrastination problem. This book sounds like it really gets to the roots of the problem — which are things that only be fixed from the inside out. Sounds like a very practical and useful book for learning about ME…and then how that relates to my clutter!

  24. My problem (one of them at least) is letting papers pile up on my desk and then forgetting about them. I just found a paper from my sons school that requested that I send to school a baby picture and a current picture because they were making a slide show for the end of the school year. I was supposed to send it in by Jan 31. Oops! Fortunately I contacted one of the moms in charge of this project, and I still have time to send it in. can you imagine the horror of my 8yo if he didn’t have his picture in the slide show? I am a bad mom.

  25. I am such an all or nothing kind of gal! I usually just feel that if I can’t do everything all at once, I should just wait until I can. I guess that’s also procrastination!

  26. That book sounds great! I have been in the process of organizing my closets, kitchen cupboards etc but I find I have so many interests it produces so much STUFF! I would love to have a whole ROOM with shelves for each interest! It would be a dream come true!

  27. You can put my name down for this giveaway!

    My biggest organizational hurdle is my home office filing. I have the hardest time keeping up with our personal things as well as business paperwork!

  28. My biggest problem is not having a place for everything. I am SO not creative in coming up with places, so I end up with clutter EVERYWHERE!

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