Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Joy of Less

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay
Chronicle Books, Updated and Revised edition: 4/26/16

eBook review copy; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9781452155180

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay is a recommended inspirational guide to living with less.

Also known as Miss Minimalist, Francine Jay has updated and revised her original The Joy of Less published in 2010. I've been curious about the minimalist movement for several years. After spending years moving approximately every 4-5 years,  I am naturally inclined to declutter and reduce the sheer volume of stuff I own. This book seemed like it would be a great match to inspire me to do more of what I already do naturally. The Joy of Less accomplished the goal of inspiring me to greater minimize my belongings, to cull what is not needed, but it wasn't a perfect fit for me as an individual.

The Joy of Less is "about decreasing the amount of stuff you have to deal with in the first place. Furthermore, you won’t have to answer quizzes, make checklists, or fill out charts - who has time for that? And there won’t be dozens of case studies about other people’s junk; the focus here is on you." According to Jay our stuff can be divided into three categories: useful stuff, beautiful stuff, and emotional stuff. We need to decide what category our things belong in and deal with them accordingly.

Jay Streamline method is the highlight of the book and could be adapted to many different households and lifestyles. She shows how to use this method and them takes you through a room by room tour on how to use it
STREAMLINE consists of:
Start over
Trash, treasure, or transfer
Reason for every item
Everything in its place
All surfaces clear
If one comes in, one goes out
Narrow it down
Everyday maintenance

I think most of us have heard the phrase, "A place for everything, and everything in its place." This is one of the most important minimalist principles and it works alongside the "One In-One Out" rule. This is a strong point of Jay's book - she breaks down the concept into steps that will help anyone interested in decluttering succeed at it. Jay does get repetitious in sharing her thoughts, which might bother some readers, although it is helpful for those who are simply flipping to the chapters they are interested in reading. Jay does maintain a positive, chipper, up-beat attitude throughout the book.

While Jay has some great points, she also made a few nonsensical statements that puzzled me and left me scratching my head. To support her premise that all of our stuff may be draining us of time, she asked: "How many precious hours have we wasted running to the dry cleaners, how many Saturdays have been sacrificed to oil changes or car repairs, how many days off have been spent fixing or maintaining our things (or waiting for a technician to make a service call)? How often have we agonized (or scolded our children) over a broken vase, chipped plate, or mud stains on our area rugs?"

Routine car maintenance to ensure your vehicle is in good working condition is just a given for many people. Or if your job requires a wardrobe where clothes need to be dry cleaned, that doesn't preclude having a well-planned minimal wardrobe of quality items. What, rather than repair items we replace them (and wait for delivery)? And we have no vases, plates, or rugs so we won't need to tell children to not track in mud or play ball in the house? (Basic family rules shouldn't be thrown out like they are clutter.)

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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