Summer Reading: 8 Books to Help You Let Go of the Clutter

With summer just around the corner, now is a great time to start making a list of all the books you want to read while you’re hanging out by the pool, relaxing on the beach, or waiting for your plane.

8 books to help you let go of the clutter

As an avid reader, I’m always on the lookout for new books.  Whatever the genre, I love curling up with a good book and passing the time. As I was checking out some of the new releases in a magazine I picked up at the library, I came across a book on decluttering.  It looked intriguing so I wondered what other good books might be out there on the topic.

There were quite a few so I decided to round them up and share them with you just in time for your summer vacation. I haven’t read any of them, but I’m definitely adding them to my summer reading list!

8 Books to Help You Let Go of the Clutter

While these are not specific how-to decluttering guides, they do offer insights into the lives of others as they faced what to do with all the stuff they had accumulated and how they finally were able to let go.  Ranging from memoirs to motivational books, these 8 books can inspire you to let go of the clutter that’s weighing you down.

  1.  Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life by Peter Walsh.  Decluttering guru, Peter Walsh, shares his experience of downsizing his childhood home and parent’s possessions.  Using illustrations from his own journey,  Walsh helps readers turn decluttering and downsizing into a rejuvenating life change with practical takeaways and useful tips.
  2. Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki. This is not the story of an organizing expert, but rather the tale of an ordinary guy who was so stressed out by his excess he decided to say goodbye to the things he didn’t absolutely need.  In return, he found freedom, focus and a sense of gratitude for everything around him.  While sharing of his journey towards a minimalist lifestyle, Sasaki offers specific tips to minimize the excess around you.
  3. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. Following the success of her Happiness Project, Rubin decided to turn the experiment towards her own home to see if she could create a calming and energizing place.  Giving herself one school year, Rubin dedicated herself to making her home an environment of simplicity, comfort, and love. Following her example, you can find more happiness and contentment in your own home and life.
  4. The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.  Simple Living pioneer, Francine Jay,  revises her popular book, The Joy of Less, with a newly redesigned edition.  Within this new update, Jay shares her steps to cultivate a minimalist mindset and form new habits, paving the way to lasting success.
  5. Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup.  New York Times Bestselling Author, Ruth Soukup, shares personal stories and practical action plans to help you take back your life from all the stuff that’s weighing you down. She will inspire and empower you to finally declutter not only your home but your mind and soul as well.
  6. The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi. Fans of Marie Kondo will enjoy this book, the original inspiration for her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. With practical and inspiring insights, Tatsumi offers hands-on advice and easy-to-follow guidelines to get rid of your clutter and find the joy that’s been eluding you.
  7. The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker. In an attempt to minimalize his own life, Becker discovered that living with less and letting go of what you own you can, in fact, maximize your life.  With practical suggestions and encouragement, Becker will help you see how taking possessions out of your life actually gives it back to you.
  8. Everything That Remains, A Memoir by The Minimalists. What do you do when your mom dies and your marriage falls apart in the same month? You start looking for answers.  That’s exactly what Joshua Fields Millburn, one-half of the team known as The Minimalists, did.  In the process, he gave up a six-figure career and embraced a lifestyle of simplicity.  Everything That Remains is the touching and personal story of one man’s quest to let go of everything and start living more deliberately.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to dig into some of these books! Not only am I interested in how to live with less clutter, I’m curious about the personal journeys the authors went through to bring them to the point where they are now.  That’s because I know that getting organized isn’t just a process.  It’s a journey that can transform us in ways we’ve never imagined.

I hope you’ll check out some of these books this summer, as well as my other organizing book recommendations.  They are plenty of summer afternoons to get them all read!

Have you heard or read any of these books about letting go?

Do you have any other books you’d suggest adding to the list?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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Ask the Organizer: What’s the best way to organize recipes?

It’s been awhile, but “Ask the Organizer” is back!

organize recipes

This time our question comes from Lisa, who wants to know the best way to organize recipes:

“I have tons of cookbooks, magazines, and index cards filled with recipes.  I enjoy using different recipe ideas when cooking, but I can never find the one I want and I get frustrated! What do you think is the best way to organize recipes?”

Great question, Lisa!  While cooking is not my forte, I do enjoy organizing recipes.  Depending on your personal preference, there are many ways you can organize your favorite recipes so you can do what you love most – cooking!

Pre-organization steps

While it might be tempting to jump in and start organizing your recipes right away, there are a few steps you’ll want to take first:

1. Purge. Before you organize your recipes, you might want to start by purging –

  • Remove any recipes you’ve tried and didn’t like
  • Take out any recipes that have ingredients, processes, or time restrictions you may not want to follow or use
  • Remove any duplicate recipes
  • Discard any recipes you thought you might like to try but have since changed your mind
  • Let go of any cookbooks that no longer interest you
  • Tear or cut out any recipes from magazines that you do want and recycle the magazine itself.

2. Sort. The next step is to sort them into like groups or categories – appetizers, main dishes, casseroles, side dishes, desserts, etc.  While this may seem like a tedious process, it will help you know how many of each type of recipe you have so you can know the best way to store and organize them. Plus it will make finding a particular recipe much easier!

* You can reverse steps 1 & 2 if you prefer to sort then purge.  The important thing is that you do steps 1 & 2!

Options for organizing recipes

After you’ve sorted and purged your recipes, then you are ready to move into the next phase – determining the best way to organize and store them.  Honestly, this is a personal preference, so think about what would work best for you when considering these organizing options:


Growing in popularity, digital recipe organization is one option.  The benefits of using a digital recipe organizer include: having recipes and ingredients on hand wherever you are,  the ability to “clip” recipes from the Internet and add them to your collection, a variety of menu planning tools and help making grocery lists.  Not only that but freeing up cabinet space by not physically storing cookbooks or recipe holders is a plus!

Apps make digital recipe organization a breeze. Here are the more popular ones:

To add your recipe to one of these digital options you simply take a picture from your phone, or scan your recipe (from your phone or desktop), and add it to the app. You can also download recipes from their site or other popular cooking sites, such as Epicurious or AllRecipes, with the tap of a button.  While most of these apps are free, some do offer upgrade plans for more storage and versatility.


If technology scares you and you’d rather store and organize your recipes the traditional way, then you have options as well.

1. Binders. One popular way to organize all your recipes is to store each recipe category (appetizers, main dishes, desserts) its own 3-ring binder.  You can use sheet protectors to hold each individual recipe or add tabbed dividers to organize even more.  Here’s an example of a collection of recipe binders from

Recipe binder organization from

2. Photo albums.  While this is not as common an option, it is one that my grandmother did for me when I got married.  She purchased a simple photo album that holds 3 x 5 pictures and inserted 3 x 5 recipe index cards instead. It is something I still treasure to this day! You can find albums, similar to 3-ring binders, that hold 3 x 5, 4 x 6, or 5 x 7 cards/pieces of paper and that have space for refillable pages to be added.

recipe book
Grandma’s recipe album

As with most things organizing-related, there isn’t just one way to organize recipes! Hopefully, Lisa, I’ve given you a few options to consider so that you can find the recipes you need and want without the frustration.  Happy cooking!

How do you organize recipes? Have you tried any of these options?

Do you have another ideas or suggestions to add?

Leave a comment and let me know!

The 5 Dirty Words of Organizing

dirty words

Growing up my brother loved the movie, “Christmas Story”.  For most of December and all day on Christmas, that movie was blaring from our TV.  So it’s no wonder I remember clearly the part of the movie where Ralphie had to sit with soap in his mouth for using a dirty word (obviously a common occurrence by his rundown of soap tastes).  And it wasn’t just any dirty word, but *THE* dirty word!

If you’re like me,  you probably remember getting in trouble for using “bad” language when you were younger; interestingly, that punishment didn’t affect us too much as some of us still continue to have a colorful vocabulary! But I’ve discovered that dirty words aren’t limited to just cuss words that require bleeping sounds.

After years of helping people get organized, I’ve learned that there are several dirty words that really hurt my ears to hear.  While I don’t advocate the use of this objectionable language, I think people need to be aware that these words are out there.  Most of all, we need to encourage others from saying them, especially in front of the children!

Want to know what they are?

The 5 Dirty Words of Organizing

Here, in no particular order,  are what I consider the most offensive and foul words in the realm of organizing:

  1. Someday.  People are always saying, “I’m going to get organized…someday” – but rarely does someday ever come.  That’s because Someday isn’t a day of the week! Stop waiting on someday and start acting now.
  2. Later.  We often say, “I’ll do that later” but later we find something else better to do. So that pile of laundry that needs to be folded, that stack of papers that need to be filed, or those clothes that need to be hung up never gets done and clutter accumulates.  Later is not your friend.
  3. Just in case.  When we hold on to things, “just in case”, we’re allowing fear to dictate our decisions and keep us enslaved to our clutter.  None of us knows what tomorrow brings, so keeping stuff just in case won’t necessarily help us in that moment.
  4. I don’t know.  Uncertainty and postponed decisions breeds clutter.  When we aren’t sure if we should keep a piece of paper or are uncertain of where to store it,  we allow clutter to creep in.  Don’t let a lack of knowledge keep you bogged down in chaos! Read books, browse blogs, or watch YouTube videos and learn how to get organized.  If nothing else, just Google it!
  5. I can’t.  Saying “I can’t” is not a true statement.  We can all do something, even if it’s a little thing.  What we really mean when we say “I can’t” is that we don’t want to.  We don’t want to put in the time, effort or energy it will require for us to get organized.  And if that’s truly how you feel, that’s okay.  But don’t say you can’t because you can do anything you put your mind to!

So there you have it, the 5 dirty words of getting organized. Perhaps you didn’t realize you were using such foul language – that’s okay, we all make mistakes! The important thing is that you’re aware of your vocabulary and make every effort to stop using these 5 dirty words today.

Your home and your mouth will thank you for it!

Have any of these 5 dirty words ever crossed your lips? What steps can you take to stop using them?

Can you think of any others I might need to add to the list?

Leave a comment and let me know!

10 Organizing Gifts for a Clutter-Free Mother’s Day

Organizing gifts for Mother's Day

Mother’s Day.  That special day of the year when we celebrate and recognize mothers around the world for the wonderful women they are and for all the things they do for us.

But along with the celebration comes the stress of finding that perfect gift – one that is meaningful, special, and communicates love.  Not an easy task!

While flowers, clothes, and spa treatments are fabulous gift ideas, why not take the unconventional route and pamper the special lady in your life with some organizing gifts she’s sure to love? Not only will they bring order and function to her life, they won’t add any clutter to her spaces!

10 Organizing Gift Ideas

1.  Planning tools.  With so many things that are required of moms these days, the best way for her to get it all done is a good planner.  The MomAgenda paper planner is a great resource for juggling kids, work, and play.  If the mom in your life prefers a digital option, a subscription to the Cozi Gold App will give her a robust tool for making to-do lists and keeping the family organized.

2. E-reader.  If your mom is an avid reader, an e-book is a perfect gift. Load it with her favorite books and magazines so she can enjoy all her reading in one place without needing to create a library in the house! There are several e-reader options to choose from:

**If you’re not sure which books to add to her e-reader, check out this list of the 20 Best Books for Organizing Your Home, Kids and Time

Shoe Slotz shoe organizer

3. Clothes closet organizers. Rather than risk upsetting your mom with clothes that are the wrong size or the wrong style, why not give her a few items that will help her find and organize the clothes she already has? Here are a few ideas that will make getting dressed each day a snap:

4.  Jewelry organizers.  If you’re short on cash for jewelry this Mother’s Day, you can always help mom keep the lovely jewels she already owns orderly with these jewelry organizer ideas:

5. Bathroom organizers.  We all know our moms are naturally beautiful.  But for those days when she needs to primp in front of the mirror, why not shower her with these tools so getting even more beautiful is easier:

6. Purse organizers.  It’s no secret that moms have to keep up with a lot of stuff, especially in their purses.  Make finding glasses, pacifiers and toy figurines a breeze with these purse organizers:

7. Car organizers.  Moms spend A LOT of time in the car.  Since her car is like a second home, here are a few resources that can keep it neat and tidy while she shuttles everyone around:

8. Kitchen organizers.  They say the heart of the home is the kitchen.  That’s probably because it’s the central location where moms spend a large majority of time doling out love with food.  Check out these kitchen organizers that can make cooking and cleaning a piece of cake:

Container Store – Elfa Wall/Door Rack


9.   The gift of time. In order to get and stay organized moms often need time to do get the job done.  Why not offer mom a coupon for some uninterrupted time to declutter and organize her favorite space?

10. A helping hand.  If getting organized is important to the mom in your life, then a helping hand might be just what she needs! You can offer to:

  • Organize a space she’s been “bugging” you about
  • Help her purge and organize a space that would make day-to-day life easier for her
  • Splurge and hire a Professional Organizer to do the work for her or to work alongside her (but only if that’s something she really wants!)

Hopefully, these 10 organizing gift ideas will bring not only a smile to your mom’s face, but they can also create order that will last her all year long.

Would the special mom in your life enjoy receiving any of these gift ideas?

Do you have other Mother’s Day gift idea suggestions I should add to the list?

Leave a comment and let me know!


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