Book Review – What your clutter is trying to tell you

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After reading The Life changing magic of tidying up, I wanted to read deeper books on decluttering. Reading the description of what is your clutter trying to tell you, I felt that this book will have answers to the questions I had in mind. I won’t consider this as a mind opening book except for the concept of boundary setting. From the culture I come from, boundary setting is the rudest thing you can ever do. But this is what I needed to hear. This one concept made the book a good read for me. The other good points in the book is the way Richardson points out how the physical clutter you hold is related to the mental beliefs you hold. The book has action points for each chapter to make you do the thinking. Rest of the book is just okay. It is short and easy. I was half expecting Richardson to write a story on his journey of moving from 2000 sq ft to 230 sq ft but that story has not been discussed in detail.
The book starts with making the reader think about the clutter and the ways in which it might be telling a story which the reader is ignoring. It sets the tone to go deeper into understanding the clutter. Then he moves on to the inner critic we all have and how we find it difficult to get past the comfort zone, in this case, living with clutter. Then he mentions the top cluster hotspots and causes of them. In the next chapter, he addresses the causes of clutters in depth where he talks about the boundary setting. Later on, he provides insights on how we hold on to clutter since we can’t get rid of certain beliefs. In the last two chapters, he addresses how to get rid of the clutter.

  • Causes of clutter
    • Excess weight is usually a protection from other’s energy, painful relationships and nasty self-talk
    • Physical clutter is sometimes the side effect of draining relationships. It is usually caused by the emotional clutter
    • Car clutter tells that you are constantly on the run
    • Hidden clutter is always calling for your attention and fuels your inner critic on what you should be doing
  • Boundary setting – Practise disappointing challenge by saying no at least 3 times a day. Start with low risk relationships. Say no whenever you don’t really want to help and if helping drains your energy
  • Statistically, we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. It is time to regularly declutter the clothes you no longer wear
  • Even though it is tough, declining hand me downs which are an obligation help you save clutter
  • Look out for I might need this someday syndrome, retail therapy ( buying goods to feel better)
  • When you keep items gifted by old relationships which you no longer have, they take up the energy which prevents the formation of new relationships

To think:

  • If clutter were no longer an obstacle, what would you then have time for? 
  • We pile on the stories in our minds, making it bigger, heavier, and more intimidating than it needs to be
  • Do you believe it is not spiritual to have financial abundance?
  • Fear of rejection is a reason you can’t lose weight
  • Sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself
  • She is not an asshole. She is just wounded.

Further reading

  • The art of extreme self care


Book Review – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Print | Kindle
I had great expectations from the book when I picked it up. It came up in many book recommendations and it was one of the famous books on the subject of decluttering. But I was disappointed. I finished the book in one night as there was not really any engaging content. The author goes on and on about her obsession for tidying up and how she chose a profession which involves that and helps clients tidy up without a rebound. She randomly quotes examples of different clients and their clutter. Then she ends the book saying there are no real rules except for deciding for yourself what you really need. The book and her profession looked like works on only one principle of the nudge a person needs to clean up. She doesn’t talk anywhere about how to prevent the new things from piling up after the clutter is cleared to prevent the rebound she keeps mentioning in the book.
The best thing I like about the book is the author asks you to visualize how you want the house to be and then start discarding everything which doesn’t bring you any joy.


Mistakes in tidying up

  • Tidying up by location instead of category
  • Sending the clutter to parents
  • Keep things  “just because”
  • Folding seems like extra work because you will wear it again


  • Designate a spot for every category in the house
  • The proper order is to place the clothes that are lighter in colour at the front and gradually progress to darker colours at the back
  • Fold each piece of clothing into a simple rectangle
  • Use photos, posters and ornaments to decorate the inside of cupboards
  • No music while cleaning up the house
  • Easy first and difficult ones last
  • If you feel someone else is untidy check yourself first
  • Visit model homes, ideal lifestyle
  • Hanging takes up more space than folding

Other benefits

  • People lost weight after letting go off the clutter

Food for thought

  • Letting go is even more important than adding
  • We attend seminars because we feel the passion of teacher and experience the learning environment
  • When we fold we should put heart into it and thank clothes for protecting our bodies
  • What you wear in the house impacts your self image
  • An attachment to past or anxiety about the future

Further reading 

  • Learn more about Feng shui
  • The art of discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi

Happy Tidying up!