No More Clutter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am

No More Clutter

by Sue Kay (Hodder Mobius, $130)

Clutter. We all have it. It's the mountain of paperwork piling up on our desks, the unfiled bank statements, that old coffee machine with the broken switch, the keys dangling from hooks that don't open any doors and the boxes of sentimental mementos - baby socks, birthday cards and letters - hoarded under beds.

But do we need it? Psychologist and professional declutterer Sue Kay says not. Far from it. She says clutter makes modern life more stressful and that what she calls decluttering can be liberating and life-changing, helping you regain control, saving you time and money and energising you.

In her work helping people declutter their homes, wardrobes and workplace, Kay is often told: 'I can breathe again' and 'I feel like a huge block is out of the way'.

In No More Clutter: How to Clear Your Space and Free Your Life, Kay attempts to give similar relief to a wider group of people.

The book starts by taking a look at the eight different types of hoarder - such as the sentimental, the rainy day, the frugal and the rebellious - and the psychology of why we hoard, before moving to a four-step plan to get organised.

Step one involves helping people with the difficult decisions about what should stay and what should go, where to start, how to organise a decluttering session and how to cope with the tough challenges: sorting out sentimental items and paper. For the sentimental clutter, Kay suggests 'the smile test'. If it makes you smile, keep it.

Step two takes you to the 'What do I do with it now?' stage. She suggests donating, selling and charity shops - or even putting it outside your home with a 'take me' note attached to it. Kay reckons you should have to wait only a few hours before the items once cluttering your life become someone else's problem.

The third and the final stage looks at how to store the things you really want to keep and to stay clutter free.

There's also an early chapter on the kinds of events that trigger de-cluttering, such as a divorce or a big move.

All in all, it's an inspirational work, well worth a read by anyone who has ever, say, put a carrier bag of stuff in a cupboard, telling themselves they'll sort it out tomorrow.

Just reading it makes clearing those boxes of toys and piles of old art work in my children's room seem a less daunting task. But that's enough from me. Read it yourself. Now excuse me ... I have work to do.

Verdict: A good way to shed some psychological weight - but don't keep it. Pass it on!