It's self-help book season. I am not usually fond of personal psychology books, but if I see practical titles, I may glance at them. It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Australian organizational consultant Peter Walsh caught my eye. People hire the author to come into their homes and help them dig out from their over-abundance of things, and he has talked about what he does on television and in magazine articles. What he offers is mostly just common sense, but that is sometimes in short supply. That's why we have self-help books.
The author begins by describing our current situation. Many people have filled their houses with things, and those of financial means are trying to cope by adding onto their houses, buying bigger houses, putting some of their things in "temporary" storage, or even buying second houses. He thinks this is ridiculous. Having so many things rarely makes anyone happier. He proposes having fewer things.
Walsh indicates that people will not succeed in clearing their houses of clutter unless they first clear their minds of the bad thinking that leads them to buy and retain so many things. He recognizes that there may be legitimate sentimental reasons to keep some items, but he urges self-examination. If one's dream house is being fouled by the clutter, it is time to establish principles and act upon them.
The plan that Walsh proposes is called F.A.S.T.
- Fix a time to work.
- Anything that has not been used in twelve months goes.
- Someone else's stuff gets returned if possible and pitched if not.
- Trash (anything that is no longer usable) is taken out.
The author offers ideas for every room in the house and for prevention of clutter in the future. I suspect everything that he says has been in other anti-clutter books, but he is entertaining without being smug, and there is an obvious need for his advice. Many libraries should consider this book.
Walsh, Peter. It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff. Free Press, 2007. ISBN 9780743292641