Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House by Sandra Felton & Marsha Sims

Title:  5 Days to a Clutter-Free House: Quick, Easy Ways to Clear Up Your Space
Authors:  Sandra Felton  and  Marsha Sims
Publisher:  Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Format:  Paperback or e-book
Pages:  215
ISBN:  978-0-8007-2107-7
Price:  $13.99 suggested paperback price

Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims are organizing experts.  They are each founders of professional organizing companies, and Sandra Felton is the founder of Messies Anonymous. Their new book, 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House, introduces a plan for tackling home chaos with a team of helpers using their Mount Rushmore method.  They provide hope and encouragement for overcoming a home filled with clutter, and a plan for keeping it clean and beautiful.

One thing I like about this book is that they begin by stating the positive aspects of people who tend to be disorganized.  They do not shame the reader, but acknowledge there are often good motives behind the disorganization.  But they do NOT leave the reader there, to pat themselves on the back and accept the clutter as a unique aspect of their personality.  They paint an inspiring and beautiful picture of the possibilities their home could hold if the clutter were tamed.

The book is divided into two sections: Getting It Under Control, and Keep The Good Life Going.  The first section explains in detail how to conquer the clutter and gain clear, uncluttered, beautiful spaces in just 5 days. The backbone of the Mount Rushmore method includes a team of non-judgmental helpers and pretty white boxes.  The helpers come in and clear all the surfaces, storing them into labeled white boxes which stack nicely and uniformly in the appropriate room to be dealt with later.  Each of the 5 days has a focus point to keep everyone working without being overwhelmed by the enormity of the project.  At the end of the 5 days (provided you have a team and aren't working alone) you have a clean home ... and piles of boxes to sort through later.

Your home may be clean and clutter-free (except for boxes) at the end of 5 days, but now the real work begins.  Obviously, one key to real change is to actually tackle the boxes as quickly as possible, before you grow accustomed to the white boxes stacked along your walls and simply ignore them.  Sandra and Marsha provide a plan for that task, as well.  Only open one box at a time, and do not move on to another box until everything in that box has been dealt with by either finding its appropriate home, being given away, thrown away, or put in a "decide later" box.  As each box is emptied, dismantle it and store it so you can see your wall of boxes shrinking.

The second part of the book provides action plans and solutions for maintaining the beauty of your newly cleared home.  One week does not change a lifetime of habits, and there will need to be changes in thought processes, shopping habits, time-management habits, and home-making habits in order to maintain the organization.  When you are starting with a clean and beautiful home, however, the motivation to keep it clean and clutter-free flows naturally.  Sandra and Marsha provide action points and key phrases that can help motivate and remind the reader of the necessary changes.  Of course, having an appropriate place for everything you keep, limiting what you keep, and not procrastinating is the foundation of that change.

I'll be honest.  I love the idea of this book, and the plan.  But it is obviously a commitment to a massive project, and at this moment, expecting my 9th baby in 5 weeks, I don't have the energy to really consider implementing it.  I will put this book on my shelf, though, and hopefully I'll be able to tackle this project at some point in the future.  But first, I'll have to get my husband on board.  He gets hives (okay not literally) whenever I pick up any of Sandra Felton's books and the title of this book was no exception.  Now, I'm not going to lay all the blame at his feet for our home. I admit to being a perfectionist who gets tired of fighting the battle with clutter and going through periods of "giving up" followed by periods of working hard at conquering clutter ... and well, having 8 kids doesn't help as children tend to disorganize rather than organize a home.

As a family, our home also falls into two of Sandra and Marsha's trouble-situation descriptions through no fault of our own.  Physical: too small a space for the number of people and their belongings in our home, where we both live and educate, and not enough storage spaces (closets and cupboards).  Situation-based:  the home and land came to us neglected, with built-in clutter from Steve's Grandparents, and unfortunately we also acquired Steve's Mom's clutter last year when she had to move into a nursing home. But this book helped me identify some of the other factors at work in our home: frugal-based clutter, emotional-based clutter, perfectionism, procrastination and distractibility.

I was especially encouraged by the story of Tracy who worked this plan on her own, without a team.  She committed two hours each day to tackling the Mount Rushmore plan and though it took her much longer than a week, she still overcame the clutter in her home.  She picked a time of day that didn't disrupt her family, and cleared her surfaces one room at a time, then tackled the stuff in the boxes, and set a plan in action for maintaining the order.  Sandra and Marsha provide other examples of different variations on the method, and ways to overcome trouble-points, including family members that sabotage the plan. I'm not completely satisfied with their suggestions for handling husbands.  I've always struggled with books written to wives for handling their messy husbands, and have never felt that the friction it would cause in the marriage was worthwhile.  However, I can change my habits, work on organizing storage areas, and find homes for everything. I can instill better habits in my children, and hope that my efforts inspire change in others, as well.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book as a workable solution for overcoming a cluttered home.  Even if you can't apply the Mount Rushmore method exactly as described, you can adapt the principles to fit your situation.  However, I really feel this plan will ONLY work if both a husband and wife agree on it.  I would not recommend that a frustrated spouse take the method and apply it without the support of their spouse.  That is just setting up the need for a marriage counseling book, in my opinion.

“Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

April E.

This book was provided free from Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was received.

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