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Book Review: Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life

October 29th, 2008

stop-clutter.jpgThis article by Violet Nesdoly is a brief review of the book Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life – Discover Why You Clutter and How You Can Stop authored by Mike Nelson. Although I have never really thought about it from such a perspective, the book seems to treat the topic of cluttering as some type of psychological disorder that involves deeper issues and can eventually be treated with a combination of therapy and introspection. Meanwhile, if you’re not that much of a hardcore clutterer and just want to clear up some space in your office, you can look at my previous article on How to Get Rid of Paper Clutter.

Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life is not just another book about ways to pare down and organize your stuff. Author Mike Nelson states in his introduction, “This book is about more than just decluttering. It’s about balance … It’s about not having to buy more and more stuff to fill a hole in our souls. It’s about learning what’s really important in our lives and not using stuff to hide from life.”

In the twenty chapters that follow Nelson delivers on the promised insights. Using easy-to-understand prose and an encouraging voice he tackles topics like what is a clutterer, common traits of clutterers, reasons people clutter, medical and mental aspects of cluttering and hoarding, and more. He supports his prescriptions with numerous examples and stories, including his own.

Appendices explaining the use of a decluttering diary, a list of affirmations, a bibliography of resources (books, websites, organizations and professionals in the field), and an index follow the main body of the book.

Several things make this a valuable book for clutterers and those who love them. Its central message, that cluttering and hoarding are only manifestations of deeper emotional and spiritual issues, is often overlooked in books of this type. Nelson supports his view of clutter’s deep roots with case studies from colleagues as well as his own experiences as a clutterer and a clutter-buster. Through these anecdotes the reader gets an understanding of cluttering’s complexity and why it’s so hard to overcome.

The multi-pronged approach Nelson advises (self-help groups, getting medical help, tapping in to spiritual resources, etc.) seems realistic. The courtesy and sensitivity Nelson models when dealing with cluttering family members and friends is also appealing.

Wherever you fit in Nelson’s clutterrer continuum from mildly disorganized to pathological hoarder, you’ll find something of help and interest in this book. The chapter “Forty Ways to Leave Your Clutter” alone makes it worthwhile. If cluttering is not your problem, get Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life for its advice on how to deal with cluttering parents, teenage children and business partners. This book will help you understand how clutter is a lot like an iceberg. What you see may indicate that under the surface there’s a lot more to deal with than simple laziness and disorganization.

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