Unclutter Your Life in One Week – Erin Rooney Doland

Posted 27 August, 2013 by Trish in Life, Reading Nook, Review / 16 Comments


Title: Unclutter Your Life in One Week
Author: Erin Rooney Doland
Published: 2009 Pages: 256
Genre: *mutters under breath: self help*
Rating: Helpful but not Earth-shattering

In Short: Doland provides helpful hints and strategies to clearing the clutter from your home and office by tackling one area each day.

Why I Read It: Absolutely 100% random library selection thatI had to renew 3 times before actually finding the time to read it.

Thoughts in General: Hi. My name is Trish and I’m a packrat. I’m also married to a packrat. While we are not hoarders, we have a fair amount of clutter in our home and it is driving me crazy. Seriously–in my hormonal (pregnant) state the clutter has caused a few meltdowns recently. Too often, though, I hang on to the thought that “what if I need that again one day!” or “there are so many memories tied with this object.” And the clutter seems to have multiplied with the little human(s) invading my living space. I know I need to let go of some things but it’s hard!

What areas of your life will you organize using Unclutter Your Life in One Week as a guide? In order: your wardrobe, your desk, a home reception station, your bathroom, office and home files, the home chore list, you bedroom, email, the kitchen and dining room, the pantry (shudders), your living spaces, your schedule!, and your routines. Plus much much more. With each topic Doland provides the methods to clearing the clutter (removing everything from the pantry seems so daunting but I can see why it’s necessary!). For me, though, it’s not how to get rid of the stuff, it’s actual doing. And the time, of course–it takes time to digitize photographs or upload all those music CDs I have stashed away.

What I would have found really useful with this book is a person who comes with it who can tell me that it’s OK to get rid of this and that. I need someone to hold my hand! Or someone sitting next to me saying “Trish, are you really going to teach yourself how to speak French using this textbook from 10 years ago?” I can be this person for Scott and I could probably be this person for you, but it’s hard for me to be my own cheerleader or clutter-coach. So basically I could read books on uncluttering all day long, but at the end of the day it’s all a lot easier said than done.

But…I vow to at least think about whether or not I need to keep the stationary I’ve had since I was a tween.

Bits I Dogeared: 

“Without clutter and chaos, you sleep well because you don’t have stress weighing on your mind. You wake up refreshed and ready to face the day…Even though you’re active, there is a comfortable flow to your day.” [really?]

“If you have more books than shelf space, you will always have books cluttering up your living spaces.” [I have no idea what this is like…]

“I’m not suggesting that you become a maid and constantly clean up after the people in your home, but you can lend a hand once in a while. It’s a difference of five seconds fixing a problem versus two hours being pissed that there is a pair of dirty socks on the living room floor. Don’t clutter up your emotions if you don’t have to.” [if you live with a clutterbug who doesn’t want to change–emphasis mine]

Stop making excuses. You can come up with reasons for why you can’t do something until you’re blue in the face. Instead of wasting the energy coming up with those reasons, use that same energy to find ways to make it happen. You’ll be surprised by your ingenuity” (223). [on deciding whether to continue a hobby]

Bottom Line: Unclutter Your Life in One Week is an easy book to digest and it was easy to skim the parts that don’t necessarily relate to me at this time (mostly the work bits). I did gather some helpful hints but overall I didn’t learn anything from this book that I didn’t already know or that wasn’t common sense. Sometimes, though, we just need to be told what we need to do and the little steps to get results. The book does contain a comprehensive fall and spring cleaning list which I found to be more valuable than any of the other information provided. I copied these for future reference (electronic of course!) but I’m guessing you could easily find similar lists on Pinterest or through a Google search.

Now that I’m not working every day and patiently waiting for this baby to make her arrival I’ve been working on decluttering the house in little chunks. Trying to unclutter years of living in seven days is a bit ambitious, but I’ve been making small strides. We took a truck-load of goods to Salvation Army and sold a few items on eBay. I’ve cleaned out the pantry and gathered up a bag of books to take to the library. I tossed the items in my bathroom that I haven’t used in years and am hoping to make a little more progress every day.

Will I ever completely unclutter my life and my home? Probably not–old habits die really hard. But it’s all about the baby steps, y’all.

How do you deal with clutter in your homes, offices, lives? Do your kitchen counters accumulate stuff like mine do or do you have a magic solution for keeping the clutter at bay?

16 Responses to “Unclutter Your Life in One Week – Erin Rooney Doland”

  1. I’m in a new phase of decluttering myself, and getting inspired by this blog post: http://zenhabits.net/declutter/

    I unfortunately don’t have any magic trick, and it seems that our place is constantly cluttered, by regularly I do some decluttering and we’re ok.

    Recently I sorted through clothes and books, and we’re bringing books to the second-hand bookstore, and with friends I’ll be selling clothes at a local flea market in September.

    But the pantry is indeed a weak point and I never know how to deal with it!

  2. I used to be a packrat, too (it runs in my family), until I ended up moving 10 or 11 times in 10 years. I learned very quickly to get rid of stuff I was never going to use and didn’t want to pack and move. Now I get rid of stuff like nobody’s business. Heh.

  3. When I first got married we lived in a one-bedroom apartment, soon with child, and no garage. We moved to a three-bedroom condo, soon with two kids, and a carport. My “stuff” grew to fill the house. Now we’re in a four-bedroom house with a two-car garage. Only two bedrooms are used as bedrooms and the garage isn’t being used by the cars because…my “stuff” grew to fill the house.

    I shudder to think of downsizing but that may be the only thing that does it for me.

    I’m going to see if my library has this book and sign up for this

  4. I am NOT a pack rat at all, but somehow, “things” still accumulate–made worse (like you said) by the addition of little people :-) Last week I completely cleaned out my closet and got rid of more than half my clothes. It feels great to have an organized closet! Do you have a problem staying on top of Elle’s clothes/toys? They grow out of stuff so fast and I feel like every couple of months, I have to go through the kids’ closets and clear them out! Anyways, I’m gla you have had time before baby arrives to make some headway on your clutter–it’s such a wonderful feeling! I’m guessing with being at home more, you’ll randomly decide to clear things out more often than when you were gone all day…-mostly because you’ll get really tired of looking at it! :-)

  5. Clutter makes me twitch so while I have clutter it’s contained to a few select areas. My kitchen counters and table can’t have stuff stay on them for more than 24 hours or I get antsy.

    My desk in the kitchen however is not tidy. It’s small though, so I have a limited amount of space to hold the clutter which works.

    Anything of The Hubster’s that stays too long on the counter or table I don’t throw away but put it in his den so it’s out of my (and any visitor’s) sight.

    Honestly – the best clutter control we have is that we have a house cleaner come in to clean every other week. Because of that we always tidy up the tables, counters, etc the night before she cleans so it never really gets out of control or expands beyond what I consider the ‘allowable’ cluttered spots.

  6. You’re a clutter-er, too?! (Hello, my name is Katie, and I’m a stacker and a pusher-to-the-periphery.) My house is never going to be clean all at once, and I’m come to terms with this, mostly. I decided during the week, I can either spend time living, or spend time cleaning. So I set priorities: the kitchen is always clean enough that I won’t be embarrassed. The mail is at least all stacked into a basket (when you can’t stuff anymore in, you have to file it). Backpacks are always in their designated areas. Anything I can put off, I deal with on Sunday afternoons or I offer the girls incentives (extra bedtime, extra computer time) to help out if it’s not a usual chore.

  7. I struggle with decluttering. Both Tai and I are keepers. We like to keep things we might need. My problem is I lack the time to do a little everyday so I usually do a lot one day or one weekend. Then slack off til I need to do a huge clean up. I lack the motivation to do a little everyday.

  8. I go through spurts of organizing and spurts of just accepting all the clutter. The fact that I’ve moved a lot has helped keep it down, I think, but we’re going on year two in the same house and I can tell the stuff is multiplying when I’m not paying attention… :)

  9. I know you think I’m insane, but most of our books are STILL in boxes. And honestly I don’t want to unpack them. I put three sets of shelves up in the basement. One is kids, one is classics and books we REALLY loved (or will be, those are in boxes. And I might ditch the classics that are free at the library) and the third small set are “current” unread books. That I NEVER look at. Upstairs I have one small set of built ins where I put library books, that’s it. I LOVE how uncluttered it makes the house.

    All our toys are in one room, and I don’t really try to keep it clean, so long as the rest of the house is ok, and this is fine with me!

    My big clutter spot is the entry counter. I try and try to control all the paper and I just can’t make it all go away. I can’t figure out what to do with it. I should really scan things and pay for cloud storage and then file the rest away in the basement. Maybe I could do that….

  10. I’m a minimalist that loves things simple. So clutter isn’t an issue for me. At any given time I have a bag of donations going on.

    You should see me after Christmas. New things come in so old must go out.

  11. Baby steps indeed! I’ve gotten a lot better about clutter. Now I just need to do a sweep regularly to keep it cleared out!

  12. God I wish I could get my hubby to read this and drink the Kool-Aid! It’s hard to ever feel really decluttered when one of you is holding on to everything for dear life!

  13. Les

    We’re pretty good about keeping the clutter contained to just a few areas in our house. I open the mail every evening as I enjoy a glass of wine, throwing the junk in the recycling bin and sorting the bills to be paid every Friday. We don’t subscribe to a newspaper or any magazines, so that helps a lot! My “office” tends to get a bit messy with stacks of papers waiting to be filed or new books needing to be shelved (somewhere!), but for the most part, the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms are clutter-free. The basement, on the other hand, needs a good purge. I have so much stuff (most on large shelving units, thank goodness) that I continue to hang on to, thinking I’ll sell it at a garage sale. But it’s really not worth the time and effort to have one, so I should just bite the bullet and haul it to the Goodwill or People’s City Mission. I did take 3 large bags of books to Half Price Bookstore last weekend. Earned a whopping $18, but at least I got rid of something! Now to start thinking about my closets. I’m not a clothes horse, but I hate to get rid of stuff that I might fit into again someday. :)

  14. I sooooo know what you mean with “I need someone to hold my hand”. Actually I seem to think that rather often… *sigh*
    I love decluttering, because it gives space… not only in the house but it also clears the mind. But I know it’s such a big task as well. I’m in summer break right now (will start again next week) and made a to do list (mostly declutter things) but I ticked just a few boxes so far. Babysteps I guess… the only way to go!

    Well, for now you’ll have something else to keep yourself busy with lol so no worries about the house ok!

  15. I’m a bit of a packrat too. I find that even when I’m trying to be good, the clutter just seems to take on a life of its own. And yet, it is so hard for me to throw anything out. I’m always trying to find ways to repurpose useless stuff. And sometimes, that works. But a lot of times, it just adds to a new form of clutter that does in the end stress me out. I agree with your point though: reading a book about decluttering ultimately reminds me of things I already know I should be doing to unclutter my life. The hardest part is just doing those things and staying on top of them. It seems that as soon as you slip up once, you’re already overwhelmed with catching up!