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Banish Clutter Forever: How The Toothbrush Principle Will Change Your Life

by Sheila Chandra

Reviewed by Alex Cater


Our homes are like a rock in a stream, with the eddying current collecting all that stuff we wanted once but now never use, from the smoothie maker and home exercise equipment to the books we promise we will eventually read. Encouraged to buy our way to happiness, amid ever changing fashions and technology, the clutter is harder than ever to keep at bay.


Banish Clutter Forever is about that stuff and how best to manage it so that your home and life work best for you. Having been brought up in a modest sized family home that contained an immoderate amount of possessions, I always considered myself handy with a bin bag ready for the charity shop. This book showed me that although I am quite good at taking action to recycle, throw away or donate my surplus belongings, my life still retains clutter, such as the shelf full of books that I will read  “one day” - cue alarm bells! - though it would take years to get through them all and I now realise there are some I do not even want to read anymore.


The title's “principle” is a straightforward model of organising that builds on the system that everyone has developed with their toothbrush. Your toothbrush is most likely by your bathroom mirror, where you use it. Following this principle of connectivity between use and location, in unison with the book's rigorous guidelines for de-cluttering spaces, will ensure that objects are in the most convenient place and likely to be returned there.


Chandra takes time to help you determine what possessions are impeding your life, going room to room in detail, and offering pep talks for stubborn clutter bugs on how to let go of objects no longer needed. Clutter is often the result of entrenched habits, and sufferers may need a great deal of direction. The benefits in space and time are obvious, but we could all do with being more frugal and knowing what you cannot allow yourself to keep will help you learn what you cannot allow yourself to buy.


With so many of us working at least some of our time from home, the home office advice is particularly useful, including new ways of organising your desk and work load to both stay on top of tasks and look ahead to future projects.


Nothing in the book is rocket science but everyone can do with a brush up, especially when it goes beyond keeping a tidy home into organisational skills for your work life that even the most disorganised person should find easy to implement and simple to maintain. Your house is where you work and live; it should not just look tidy but also be ordered. As the book explains, it is no good having a mad tidy up before friends or relatives come round, leaving a comical pile behind every cupboard door waiting to fall down on the next person to open it. A spring clean is only half the battle, keeping it that way is the real task. If you are thinking about confronting some domestic disarray, however small or large, you will find Banish Clutter Forever a great touchstone and guide.


Banish Clutter Forever by Sheila Chandra



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