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Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff

Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff: the Q.U.I.C.K. way to bring lasting order to household chaos. Lori Baird, Ed.
Rodale Press, 2002. 375 pages.

One of the triumphs of the Age of Enlightenment was the publication of the Encyclopedia in France. With Dear Diderot at the helm, scholars encouraged their soon-to-be-fellow-citizens to examine every aspect of an ancient way of life. The Encyclopedia was thus part of an intellectual climate conducive to Revolution. Imagine that! A shelf of books helped banish the soul-sucking leaders of a corrupt establishment and inspired the creation of an enduring new social, economic and political system.

Well, maybe you too want to destroy an ancient way of life: banishing your soul-sucking clutter and creating an enduring new system...for your home. Well, consider this book. Cut the Clutter is a veritable encyclopedia about hoarding, collecting, accumulating. With tongue-in-cheek scientific and historical examples, it categorizes the different personality types associated with clutter: collector, accumulator, decorator, dropper, tosser. The quizzes in Part I identify your personal "clutter style." I'm a Concealer: using baskets, bins and boxes to hide the mess and keep surfaces clean so that "no outsider [will] catch on to the fact" that I have serious clutter problems too. Who knew?

Part II outlines "the revolutionary Q.U.I.C.K. clutter control system" for bringing long-lasting peace, order and good government to your home:

  • Quantify
  • Unload
  • Isolate
  • Contain
  • Keep It Up

Keen readers of organization literature will recognize here the similarity with Julie Morgenstern's S.P.A.C.E formula from Organizing From the Inside Out (1998) and the P.L.A.C.E formula from Organizing for Dummies external link (2000). Looks like the revolution has been spreading.

Practical suggestions and solutions abound: "20 places to banish books; 7 ways to host a better garage sale; 7 ways to use baskets". In the never-ending war against mess, the authors offer "1,237 terrific clutter-cutting tips." Magnifique!

Part III is the grand tour of the whole house, applying the Q.U.I.C.K. strategies room-by-room: a comprehensive exploration of every imaginable hot spot ("5 ways to scrap wood scraps" in the workroom). Excellent shade-on-shade illustrations add visual interest to the oversize pages; the writers make liberal use of boxes, sidebars and other tricks of magazine layout to create an "easy to navigate" handbook, simple yet beautiful. Here's inspiration to create order and harmony anywhere: castle to cottage!

I especially enjoyed the "hundreds of insider secrets" from successful real-life Clutter Crusaders: "Sue stored the family's off-season clothing... in empty suitcases...and slid [them] under everyone's beds." I took comfort in the "Confessions" of real-life collectors and accumulators. Take Maryjean who "sought help from a professional organizer" when "her brand-new red Mustang became cluttered...within a week of purchase." Or Joey X and his 15,000 comic books: "the halls of the New York apartment...were lined with bookshelves groaning under the weight of his collections."

Here is one insight into the psychology of clutter: "Many of us seem to have a relationship with our inanimate objects." How true! Denial, resistance, obsession, perfectionism: this book digs deep, to examine the roots beneath the surface squalor.

Cut the Clutter has something for everyone: couples, families, singles, seniors, kids, big city, small town, an inclusive approach to a universal problem. So if you want to start your own personal revolution, allowing you to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in your very own home, take a look at this truly liberating book.


Clutter is like the tide: It comes in every day, whether you want it to or not. And unless you find a way to deal with it as quickly as it flows in, pretty soon you'll be drowning in clutter. ~ Lori Baird, ed., Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff