The More of Less – Book Review on Decluttering

The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away.

Yet another book on decluttering?

Well, sort of.

Why? Because . . .

“On average, at least in my own country, we see five thousand ads every day telling us to buy more. I want to be a voice urging us to buy less, because the potential benefits for our world are incalculable when hundreds, thousands, millions of lives are transformed by minimalism.”

That’s a lot of voices talking to us every day. To buy more. Keep more. Use more.

Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com is also using his voice. But he’s not trying to just sell us on decluttering. He wants us to see the joy in adopting a minimalistic lifestyle in The More of Less.

He starts by debunking two myths of minimalism:

Myth 1

Minimalism is about giving up everything.

Wrong, he says. “Minimalism is about living with less . . . less is not the same as none.” There are things we are meant to enjoy. And keep. Don’t get rid of everything.

Myth 2

Minimalism is about organizing your stuff.

You’ve probably heard before that you can’t organize clutter. True. Rearranging our stuff is only a temporary fix at best. “Organizing is better than nothing. But minimizing is better by far.”

Remember Becker’s goal for minimalism: It is “not just to own less stuff. The goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.”

He suggests you start with not touching a thing. But asking yourself why you want to minimize. Then go from there.

Start decluttering the easy stuff. A specific closet. Or even one drawer.

We use 20 percent of our stuff 80 percent of the time, and we use the other 80 percent of our stuff only 20 percent of the time. So within that 80 percent of your stuff that mostly just lies around, there should be plenty of easy pickings when you start to minimize.”

The book then progresses into traditional advice: make three piles (things to keep, to relocate, to remove). You know the drill.

Tips

  • Wash dishes right away.
  • Keep flat surfaces clear.
  • Complete one- to two-minute jobs immediately.
  • Take pictures of it before you get rid of it.
  • Give stuff away to create new memories for others.

Other advice isn’t necessarily as conventional:

  • Try keeping half for now.
  • Always leave empty space in your coat closet.
  • Experiment first by living without ___ (whatever) for 29 days.
  • Watch less television. (So you’ll want less stuff.)

Becker also reminds us what happens when we don’t minimize. We’re still giving something away: Our freedom to fully live the life we want.

But with relationships?

Here Becker says do not be minimalistic. He says, “Choosing to invest only in the relationships that benefit us isn’t love — it’s selfishness.”

“The goal is not to remove every person from my life who does not serve me. The goal is to bring greater intentionality into each of my relationships. I want to find people who will lead me, mentor me, and love me, but I also want to keep in my life people whom I serve and love and pour my life into. Because both are required for a balanced life.”

The bottom line in becoming minimalistic isn’t to live without. It’s to live intentionally. Having less doesn’t mean settling for less.

“ . . . maybe the greatest benefit of generosity is this: generous people realize that they already have enough.”

* * *

What areas do you most like to keep clutter-free? Which areas are the hardest? Please share in the comments.

More book reviews on decluttering:

Thanks to Blogging for Books
for the review copy of this book

30 thoughts on “The More of Less – Book Review on Decluttering

  1. Linda Stoll

    Good morning, Lisa!

    This here is a great takeaway –>’Complete one- to two-minute jobs immediately.’

    Talk about getting freed up, huh? Maybe 80% of our tasks are quick and easy. It’s just when they stack up that we end up feeling under the pile.

    I’m going to keep this on the front burner, friend.

    Meanwhile my own copy of Becker’s book is still sitting there. Guess I should pick it up …
    Linda Stoll recently posted…How Calming the Relief When We Relinquish ControlMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love that two-minute tip, too. I first heard it from “Getting Things Done” and have tried following it for a few years. It really does make a difference and it’s pretty painless advice to follow. I’ll be interested to know what you think about this book when you get around to it. Thanks, Linda.

  2. Bethany McIlrath

    Wow! What a thorough review of minimizing!! My husband is a natural at this- and I’m a neat freak, but I like the security of feeling like I have “stuff.” Great points, here! I love “don’t watch TV.” That’s something I’ve been practicing for other reasons, but the benefit he mentions is true- much less temptation to want more stuff!!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think it’s wonderful when both a husband and wife are neat. :) I’m grateful my husband is basically that way too. He does like his stuff (we all do, just in different categories, right?), but he keeps it neat or else out of sight. ha. The “don’t watch TV” tip surprised me in a decluttering book but I think he’s right on target with it. I quit reading the advertising circulars that came in my newspaper years ago because they only made me want to buy things that I didn’t need. I guess all the little things add up! Thanks for stopping by, Bethany.

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Lisa, my biggest struggle right now is paper! Oh my! Does he give any suggestions in this regard?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Paper is a beast, yes? I struggle with it too. And the author says he still doesn’t have it totally under control himself, but he does give tips! His two keys are to (1) act quickly when paper comes in and then (2) file appropriately. He recommends using filing cabinets so you don’t have stacks sitting around. And to go paperless with as much stuff as you can. He also says to ask yourself why, what, and how you keep papers so you can get to the root of the problem.

      1. Lynn D. Morrissey

        Tx Lisa. That’s helpful. I do have file cabinets, which I purge periodically. It’s the handling at once that is the killer and I hve those paper piles b/f they go into the files. Ugh. BEAST is the best word for it. But I hope to kill it. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you really like this book. How do you find it differs from other books of its genre?
        L.

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          I rarely purge my file cabinets, but it is a job that I desperately need to do. :( I know I’d end up with tons of empty space in them if I would.

          How was this book different? I’d say Becker’s philosophy was slightly different. The general how-to tips are somewhat consistent from book to book, but the “why” can change. My take-away from Becker’s view is that when we get rid of our excess, we are more free to bless the world in many different ways.

  4. Barbara H.

    This sounds like one of the more balanced books on this subject. I have a friend who wanted to minimize and did a systematic going-through of just about everything in her house that took months. And I thought – it sure takes a lot of time and effort to simplify and minimize. Ha! I do tend to hang on to things for sentimental reasons or because “I might use it some day.” We have the storage space now, so it’s not an issue. But each time I do sort through things, I’m a little more ruthless about what I keep. And I am much more choosy about adding to it. If we ever had to downsize our housing, I’d have to get rid of a lot more, and I think I could do that with more ease now. Something about being over 50 causes me to realize there’s not going to be time to use a number of things. Plus I don’t want to leave a big assortment for my kids to have to sort through when I’m gone.

    One of the things I have the hardest trouble throwing away is cards. Some of them are quite special – some, not so much, but it seems sad or unappreciative to throw them away. But to keep them all means it’s less likely I’ll ever go through them. Keeping just a few representative or special ones means I might enjoy pulling them out and looking at them again. Not many people still send cards these days, so I guess that’s one plus, ha!
    Barbara H. recently posted…Book Review: They Almost Always Come HomeMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So sometimes we can complicate becoming minimalist. That sounds like something I would do. ha. I agree with you that being over 50 makes it easier to part with stuff. We accumulate up to 50, then start getting rid of stuff after 50. :) I don’t want my kids to have to go through all my junk either.

      I’m with you on cards. I have a box I keep under my bed with special cards, and then a couple of boxes in the attic with cards. I’ll likely never go through any of them though. ha. But I feel better having them. I finally have gotten to where I can throw away a card if there’s no personal message on it, but if someone writes something sweet, I still hate to throw it away. Who knows when we might need that pick-me-up? :)

  5. Karen

    This is an excellent book review. The practical tips are great. And you know, he’s right on. The thing about amassing stuff is that that it never satisfies… only creates the desire for more. Actually, living with less breeds satisfaction and contentment when the right attitudes accompany it. I also love his ideas that extend to relationships. Thank you for sharing this!
    Karen recently posted…First FruitsMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It sounds like you’re already living this out first-hand, Karen. I used to be more of a packrat myself, but once I moved twice in one year, I learned I could live with less. :) And it was much more pleasant too. Rarely do I miss anything I get rid of. I do love the perspective given in this book; he comes at it with a little different angle than other decluttering books.

  6. Debbie

    I like Joshua’s FB page and get articles from him. I’m a fan. My biggest problem area is paperwork. It seems to pile up magically! I also have problems with photographs. I need to go through all of them (currently in a pile in my office) and get rid of the ones that don’t have a memory attached. And digital photos! Oh my goodness. I believe less clutter and things helps my mind be free to think more positive and happier thoughts. It’s also a control thing and we all need to feel a little control in our life since there is so much we don’t have control over! Great review Lisa! Have a great day!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ack—don’t get me started on photos. ha. I’ve been on a MAJOR project this year with all my pictures. It’s very slow going but I’m definitely making progress. I had digital photos on various computers, external hard drives, photo sites, etc., so I’m finally consolidating them all in two places and actually printing out enough to keep and look at. I started with 2015 and am working my way backwards. I’m currently on 2012. :) I won’t have too much further to go back (I actually was more organized before digital photography). I’m glad you are already a fan of Joshua’s: I need to read more from him! Hope you’re having a great day too, Debbie.

  7. floyd

    Excellent points. It’s about perspective, all of life is. It’s way easier to succeed when we have the right perspective and attitude.

    I’m not so much about the little things. When I go in, I go in big! Usually with the prospect of some type of payoff in the end… which is a weakness all unto itself.

    Love the take on relationships. Pondering now… thanks. I think.
    floyd recently posted…COOLING MY HEELSMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it is about perspective. With the right perspective, life can be so much better.

      I was glad to see the opposite take on relationships as opposed to other “stuff.” We might get rid of stuff we don’t need, but people shouldn’t fall into that category. :)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      There are lots of good books out there on decluttering for you to choose from. You’ll have to sort through the clutter to find the right one, Michele. :) Have a great weekend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I enjoyed hearing Becker’s take on minimalism, too. I think it could probably be defined a little differently for each person. And definitely look different for each person!

  8. Debbie Kitterman

    Lisa – great review – I think the kitchen counter or any surface in the kitchen is the hardest area to keep de-cluttered because it is the first place everything gets deposited when we come into the house. I found you today at #Faith andFriends link-up where we are neighbors

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Debbie. Looking at my kitchen counter now, it has a thank-you card on it, a couple of receipts, and a few dirty dishes. :)

  9. Mari-Anna Stalnacke

    Ah, Lisa. You’re so good at picking awesome books! You did it again! I am all for minimalism. I’m slowly working toward owning less and less. It’s freedom! It opens up new possibilities! Thanks for this review. The less junk we own, the more space for Jesus. Abundant blessings, friend!
    Mari-Anna Stalnacke recently posted…How to Build a Beautiful LifeMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You state it well, Mari-Anna: “The less junk we own, the more space for Jesus.” I think the author would agree with you on that, too!

  10. Lori

    This sounds like a great book, Lisa. Every 6 weeks I deep clean and declutter one room in the house. I stopped spring cleaning and started doing this several years ago because I was amazed at how much stuff we accumulated in a year. It is so much easier to stay on top of it every few weeks instead of once a year. Thanks for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.
    Lori recently posted…The Peace Offering {Thankful Thursdays Linkup #64}My Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Wow, that is an awesome habit to have, Lori! I wish I would be so disciplined to do that. ha. I keep things fairly decluttered and fairly clean, but the deep cleaning is a rarity. Thanks for sharing that it IS possible. :)

  11. Dee

    Hi Lisa!

    Lovely blog and great review. I am a clutterer and definitely need to minimalize. This book sounds like a good read for me. I start every New Year to throw out something from my 80% pile, however, by the time May rolls around…I’ve stopped.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You sound like me, Dee. :) I have big intentions every January to totally clean everything. I think I’ll set smaller goals next year. ha. I do get areas here and there cleaned up though, so at least that’s something. I’ll take the wins where I can get them.


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