If you’re looking for a clutter book, they tend to come in three types. There’s the type written by the ‘born organized’ person who loves label makers; there’s the reformed hoarder; and then there’s the seen-it-all professional who has clearly borne witness to all kinds of family drama. Peter Walsh is that third type. Let It Go is the book to get if your struggle with clutter is easy compared to the struggle over it with your relatives.
By the way, that first type of organizer? Is a lot like a young trainer at the gym who has never had an injury or carried extra weight. They may have studied hard and they may have a lot to offer, but there’s a certain level of emotional connection that may not happen.
What distinguishes Let It Go from other clutter books is that it has guidelines for how to have certain types of discussions with family in specific situations. Walsh even offers some personality types that are relevant in all scenarios, not just dealing with clutter, and will undoubtedly provoke some amusing reactions. This may be a “mind blown” perspective shift for a lot of people who know their family makes them crazy, they just aren’t sure exactly why.
Any organizing book can tell you to sort your stuff, toss some, and donate the rest. These books are very helpful for the literary type who aren’t hindered by emotional attachments but more by executive function issues, like categorizing or sorting what “belongs” in which room. This book stands out because it has so much solid advice on, frankly, negotiating with the family wingnuts.
I’ve been thinking about clutter and minimalism lately because a friend of mine finally called me for coaching after a three-year standing offer. Why? Her elderly dad is coming to visit for the first time in many years, and she wants to impress him. It wasn’t getting evicted for failing her habitability check that did it; it wasn’t the offer of free help; it was love. This is what we should keep in mind when we sort our stuff: Who are we doing it for, and are we as careful to preserve the stories as we are the heirlooms? Are we keeping the right legacy alive?
Many items you need to shed are firmly glued to you with a sticky layer of memories, sadness, anxiety, and guilt.
Always remember that the stuff you own influences how you think.
I am Perfectly Confident that this is a book that will influence my future decisions. Don A. Moore has done the enviable job of writing an instant classic, a highly readable book that should set him up well as a thought leader.
Having read this work, though, it makes me wonder whether having read it might convince someone - though surely not me, ho ho - that they are now making wiser decisions than they were before, without actually doing anything differently.
I have reason to question my own judgment after the way this year has gone. I made a series of errors in planning around this pandemic, the worst of which was the stupendously bad risk that ended in my nearly dying of COVID-19. While it can be hard to tell whether something was risky when the outcome is good, it’s easy to tell when the results are terrible. I’d really like to get better at avoiding more bad outcomes, especially since we’re all now facing the kinds of risk that can kill.
“What are you wrong about right now?” This is one of the questions that arose in Perfectly Confident that stopped me in my tracks. There is probably something I’m wrong about at all times. My brother might tell you that it’s my belief in his dog Penny’s ability to speak the word ‘hello’ - but then that’s a zero-sum argument and if I’m not wrong, then he is. I’m willing to be wrong about certain things, like whether a friend will repay a loan or whether a recipe is worth trying. But what am I seriously wrong about, in terms of blind spots and strategy and errors in judgment?
I started keeping a page in my day planner called ‘Decisions.’ In it I write down pending decisions that we haven’t acted on yet (usually things that include my husband, since I don’t tend to get stuck often on purely personal decisions). When the decision is made, I write down what it was and a brief rationale of why. It has been pretty interesting to be able to scan that list over the course of a year. Writing down your decisions and your estimate of how they are likely to turn out is a very intriguing exercise recommended by Moore. I’m going to take him up on it and start estimating my outcomes as well.
Perfectly Confident is a wonderful and compelling read. It’s short enough that it could be shared with a reading buddy, and if you’re married, I definitely advise having a conversation about it with your partner. It’s also an excellent choice for work teams. I liked this book so much that I will read anything Don Moore writes, and I’m perfectly confident that will be just as fun and informative.
Is it wise to believe that you, blessed among the many, will beat the odds and get lucky?
Document your reasoning for making a decision, based on its expected value.
...self-fulfilling expectations of your success are not overconfident. They are accurate and they are wise.
Ask yourself why you might be wrong.
Please do savor the anticipation of a bright future. ...We live in a time of outrageous plenty.
Eat Sleep Work Repeat is a pretty solid description of a lot of our workdays, even during stay-at-home orders. The only correction I would make is that I’m probably not alone in often eating while I work. When I quit my day job in 2010, I lost 15 pounds the first year just from not snacking at my desk. Anyway. Bruce Daisley is here to show us all how to replace the negative factors of our work lives with something nice. Yes, all of them!
Personally, I have it made. I can work from home, barefoot, next to an open window. This was literally my dream when I was 24. All the things that used to bother me about work are, at least temporarily, gone: The commute, getting up early to fuss with my hair, the dress code, wearing a badge, the burnt popcorn in the break room, and, worst of all, freezing all day most days. Now I can wrap up in a blanket when I need to and nobody even knows.
Isn’t it weird how the things we dislike about “work” usually aren’t related to the work itself? It’s the conditions that get us - that, or the friction of human interactions.
This book is arranged in short sections that are focused on specific, easily manageable changes. Some examples would be taking an actual lunch break, or banning phones from meetings. Much of the book deals with ways that colleagues can help each other create a better work environment that is both more efficient and more fun. Eat Sleep Work Repeat is the rare sort of business book that can be shared at work and embraced by anyone who picks it up. Let’s all try to spread the word about some of these cultural changes so they become the norm... whenever we go back to having a norm.
Is it reasonable to expect to enjoy your job?
We’re overwhelmed with demands and expectations placed on us by others, but we have come to accept it all because we assume that’s the way it is and has to be.
Quite simply, when we laugh we’re willing to show our truest selves to others and be more open to the quirkiness of others.
Leading Without Authority is an automatic classic. This is not a motivational business book in the traditional sense. It’s more of a tell-it-like-it-is guide to why some people are really hard to work with, which can be so refreshing. Read the right way, Keith Ferrazzi’s book can help deal with not just frustrating people at work, but frustrating people at home, too.
What I love about this book is the concept of co-elevation, that improvement is a group project. I can’t become a better person without having a positive effect on others. Helping others, in turn, is a form of self-improvement. Any person at any level has the power to reach out and try to solve problems in the workplace, no matter how pernicious.
Try, anyway. Usually it’s the small stuff that rankles on us more. We can sort of learn to accept larger issues - like my first job at a mortgage bank, where I knew they sometimes foreclosed on people - but daily friction with our coworkers can become nearly intolerable. That’s usually why people quit, because there is that one person (or boss) they just can’t stand any more.
Part of the reason why is that we feel like we’re expected to pretend these interpersonal issues don’t happen. Meanwhile, the person who is bothering us - and possibly everyone - may have no idea! We only know how other people perceive us if they tell us.
Ferrazzi encourages us to approach the people we’ve written off and figure out a way to work with them. Leading Without Authority has a bunch of examples of how much this oogs people out, how they’d basically do anything to avoid this type of conversation, but then how they did it and managed to make a real connection.
I have tried this and I have to say, it does usually work. There are people out there who are unapologetic jerks, and it can be funny to have a conversation with them about their methods, because they have no problem admitting their part in things. Other times, the person everyone is whispering about is totally oblivious.
One of these successes involved the guy who always came to the potluck but never brought anything. I hate nothing more than when people talk smack about someone behind their back and refuse to confront them directly. I said to him mildly, “Usually when people come to a potluck they bring something, like a bag of chips or some paper plates.” “Oh?” he said. He was from Ukraine and, guess what? This was a completely new custom to him, so how was that his fault? From that point forward, he always made sure to bring a contribution.
Start with the assumption that people are nicer than you think they are.
Another occasion that went much better than I expected: I worked at a campus with limited parking. There weren’t enough parking permits to go around, and they only lasted a year. The person in charge issued new permits, and suddenly several people found out that their permits had arbitrarily been canceled with no notice. (!) Mass outrage. I suggested that at least a form letter should go out to tell people, if not some other systemic reforms, but nobody wanted to confront this infamous Revoker of Permits. I volunteered as tribute. I emailed her, and she literally invited me to her office for tea and cookies. She had an entire collection of beautiful teapots and an oak dining table she had brought from home, complete with cloth napkins. I made my suggestions, she instantly agreed, and then we just hung out and ate cookies together for a while. Not much of an ogre.
If you ever find yourself lying awake at night, going over a bad interaction at work or just dreading going in the next day, you need this book. Maybe everybody does. Leading Without Authority is most excellent, and I can vouch that its premise even works for lowly administrative assistants.
Having just started a new job in a new field, I can verify that the job-hunting approach in #ENTRYLEVELBOSS is accurate. Listen to Alexa Shoen, because she knows how this is done.
For some reason, the old methods persist. Every conversation with someone who has just been laid off is the same. “There are no jobs out there.” That basically ends the conversation. They’ll wind up taking the first opening that they hear about, a random position at a random company, and keep trudging along until the next round of layoffs.
I personally just got a job that I applied for while I had COVID-19, and if someone with a lung infection can do well in a panel interview, chances are that anyone can. That is, of course, if they are using an effective approach, and not simply emailing their crusty old resume around every now and then.
I asked a friend who is successful in my field if I could see his resume, and used the same format. Then I had him look it over. After that I passed it to a friend who is a manager for another tech company. I also went to a workshop and had a couple of sessions with a career coach, who helped me figure out some highlights to share at interviews. In all three cases, I wound up adding and emphasizing aspects of my resume that I hadn’t realized were important.
I applied for three jobs - only three. The first one never replied, the second one sent a quick rejection, and the third one went from application to start date within six weeks.
My experience validates Shoen’s emphasis on targeting very specific jobs, rather than sending out the maximum number of applications. This is really important. The job you want, at the company where you want to work, may not be advertising all its openings in places where you would see them. It’s also possible that you can set up a profile and fill out an application at your desired employer before the job you want opens up - that’s what happened to me.
I got a job that didn’t even exist when I applied for it.
That kind of thing happens all the time. I’ve also seen people close to me have positions created for them because someone wanted to bring them aboard. Employers want motivated people to come to them and say, “I can solve this problem for you.”
Whoever you are, you have skills that someone wants. You can fill a role that nobody else can do quite as well as you. Just because you might not be a fit at one place (or several) doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be perfect elsewhere. Don’t give up - read #ENTRYLEVELBOSS and do whatever you need to do to change your approach.
You will never again find yourself at a dead end, panicking without a plan.
It is extremely unlikely that you are the one truly unemployable person on this earth.
Project 333 is the kind of great idea that doesn’t even feel like an idea. People tend to forget that someone like Courtney Carver actually innovated something. The more simple and elegant a solution is, the more it seems obvious - yet it sure wasn’t!
The premise of Project 333 is to take a break from what might be an out-of-control closet and only wear 33 items for three months. That’s where the ‘333’ comes from.
I know precisely one person - one of my clients - who probably has fewer than 33 items in her wardrobe.
Then there’s my husband. I just asked him, and since we’ve been WFH he has been using:
5 pairs of shorts
1 pair of shoes
= 11 items.
Carver’s book includes 33 chapters (of course) exploring the technicalities of the project. She offers a few examples of people who have tried it out, with lists of which items they included and what color.
This is fascinating stuff, and there could probably be a companion volume to Project 333 of just color grids of various people’s capsule wardrobes.
I used to be an inveterate thrift store shopper, and I had so many clothes that my closet rod snapped and dumped everything onto the floor. It turns out that being ‘organized’ and cramming everything in on special hangers is... heavy.
So was the unconscious burden of keeping clothes across six sizes, never knowing which size I’d be wearing three months later.
The more I worked with my people, the chronically disorganized and the hoarders, the more clarity I got about my wardrobe. I had a lot in common with my clients.
Buying things for the pattern or the fabric even if I didn’t wear them
Keeping gifts even if they didn’t go with anything else
Hanging onto old clothes even if they didn’t fit
Trying on several things, not realizing that most of them always wind up back in the pile
Always having a reason to keep something and never having a reason to let something go
I call this the ‘bottom up’ method. Look at what we have and work from there. What I gradually learned was a more systemic ‘top down’ method, figuring out what is actually needed.
The concept of designing a wardrobe was totally lost on me. This whole idea of choosing only things that work on my body type and interchange with each other... huh? How do people do that??
I’m exactly the audience for a book like Project 333.
Courtney Carver is right. Working with a minimal wardrobe really is better and easier. There are so many more interesting and important things to think about rather than what we’re wearing every day. Especially first thing in the morning, it’s a huge improvement to be able to grab something and feel right about it on the first try. Getting ready to start the day is one of the toughest times for the chronically disorganized. Project 333 is an ideal way to cut down on complications and have at least one area of life go smoothly.
Dress for the life you have right now, and you will move through it with more ease and grace.
This is Marie Kondo’s best book. I read it with a certain amount of trepidation, because I found several ideas in her previous books to be impractical or actively dangerous. It also amazes me that her clutter work is so broadly popular, because I have yet to see a hoarder like one of my clients actually complete the KonMari method. Joy at Work, on the other hand, should work for anyone.
Where this book shines is in its focus on time, rather than stuff. The reason for organizing papers or office supplies is to free up time, which can both improve one’s professional reputation and allow for an earlier end to the workday.
Joy at Work also highlights relationships and communication more than Kondo’s earlier books. Most of what constitutes “work clutter” is probably more about people irritating each other than about the arrangement of physical objects. This approach would be great for another household management book, if she ever chooses to write one.
There is a section on meeting management which obviously comes from someone with a full calendar. Here is an area where even one reader who is willing to share this material can delight everyone else in the office. Yes, let’s all have fewer and shorter meetings and excuse anyone who doesn’t need to be there.
The only thing that Joy at Work is missing, in retrospect, is a section on telecommuting. That could really be a book of its own, with chapters on how to balance homeschooling, electronic device sharing, and varied schedules. Maybe it could be called Joy in Spite of It All.
As I was planning my wedding, I asked the readers of my old book blog what would be their pick for the absolute worst book to read on one’s honeymoon. I got a lot of darkly humorous responses. I took the advice not to pack them with my trousseau, but out of curiosity I did read a few later. I’d have to say the winner was Revolutionary Road. A close second was The Shining, and wouldn’t that top the list of books not to read during quarantine?
In a similar spirit, I offer here a sampling of Books Not to Read Right Now. They are all great and well deserving of a read, but let’s just maybe save them for a brighter day, shall we?
The Stand. The most light-hearted of these selections, this book might be worth reading, as many chapters are quite practical. Let’s also be glad we aren’t dealing with Captain Tripps.
The Siege. ...of Leningrad. Only read this if your pantry and freezer are full and you’ve just eaten an extra-large stuffed crust pizza.
Room. A young mom entertains a small child in a single room using only the craft supplies she has on hand.
The Hot Zone. If you really want to understand the concept of contagion or zoonotic disease, here ya go. From today’s perspective, it has a somewhat happy ending, which my roommates and I did not know when we were trading this book back and forth in 1994.
Rats, Lice, and History. Another nonfiction book that wants to scare us with something (bubonic plague) that was much more contagious and a much bigger threat in its time than it is now.
The Coming Plague. If you’re disgruntled about top-level responses to COVID-19, have I got a little something for you. Publication date: 1994
In times of trouble, it can be hard to remember that such a thing as “luck” exists. Janice Kaplan decided to research the topic from an analytical perspective, not being a natural optimist, with the goal of finding out if she could learn to be lucky. How Luck Happens is the delightful result.
The first thing that becomes clear in the research and writing of How Luck Happens is that Kaplan gets tons of help whenever she asks. People keep saying Yes to her request for interviews, giving her extra time, and connecting her with other well-placed people. She recognizes that this is her way of making extra luck. Over and over, these successful people list off how they’ve been lucky in their own lives and how they do their best to pay it forward, which is clearly a way to become even luckier.
This was an exciting book to read, because I see myself as a lucky person even though I have lived through some pretty serious misfortunes. There are a lot of tricks to it, and one of them is learning to think in counterfactuals. “If X had happened instead” or “If Y hadn’t happened.” For instance, last month my husband had a terrifying and very painful eye injury and we spent the night in the emergency room, where we both picked up either a bad cold or the flu and were sick for a week. Anyone would consider that bad luck; you wouldn’t even have to qualify as a pessimist. The counterfactuals, however, go on and on. We felt so lucky that we have health insurance, that this happened near home instead of in the backwoods or on vacation or overseas, that we have antibiotics in our century, that there were numbing eye drops, that his vision was saved and his eye healed completely, that we’re both able to work from home so I could take care of him, that we ranked so low on the triage list that a lot of people in much worse shape got to go in first. Rather this than the kidney failure...
THEN we realized that we were even luckier than that, because this happened early enough in the year that we got “the flu” (or whatever) and we missed COVID-19.
How Luck Happens does a great job of explaining the concept of luck, which includes what I would consider to be ‘good fortune.’ Kaplan does an amazing job of demonstrating how to create your own kismet and generate serendipity. I also loved how she started looking for ways to create lucky circumstances for others, something that my husband and I do all the time and which it is thrilling to see explained and encouraged. Nothing is more fun.
I hope this book is wildly successful and that readers start testing these ideas right away. Maybe writing this review will throw a little extra luck my way?
Sometimes the seed of opportunity that we plant doesn’t blossom into luck until weeks or months or even years later.
“Real luck occurs at the intersection of chance, talent, and hard work,” I said.
You have to believe you’re lucky to take the action that will make you lucky.
The real trick is to recognize those moments of luck moving forward.
The grit and fortitude and steely resolve that come with being passionate make positive things happen. Putting your desire out to the universe just means that you know what you want.
You get lucky when you admit what you want and go after it.
Money Diaries is like a combination smart personal finance class-slash-dirty secret. There is something seriously naughty about snooping through the intimate details of other people’s daily expenses. Would I be willing to share mine? *snort* Not likely! Even posting everything I read on Goodreads is pushing my limits.
This is a very smart book, partly because it shows people making what may not always come across as smart decisions. These stories are unique, though, and each person makes different spending priorities. I like reading the examples from women who earn significantly more than I do and imagining if I would spend my income in the same way. This, among other reasons, makes Money Diaries a great book to share with a romantic partner. You can pick through the details and talk out whose side you take. This is how a couple starts to form a united front and start making team financial decisions.
This book is aimed at younger, urban people. While it does touch on “extreme” savings and debt reduction, this is definitely not a frugality book or a financial independence book. As such, it may be a better choice for those who are repelled by austerity measures. This makes it more pragmatic than other books, especially because it includes realistic material about wine, birthday presents, yoga, therapy, and other personal necessities like buying hardcover books to read during chemo.
I respect Money Diaries as an approachable and practical book about financial literacy. All the case studies are not only fun to read, but enlightening, and they make sense of abstract, complicated topics like health savings accounts. Money Diaries reads like a glossy magazine, if there were any glossy magazines that could get you out of debt and help you set up a retirement account.
Maybe we don’t even realize that we’re doing it, but it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that we should be able to afford those lifestyles.
Real wealth is about being able to make choices.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies