Monday, December 27, 2010

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living Review and Guest Post

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."


Tsh: What does it look like for a modern-day family to live simply while still participating in after school sports, errand running, and getting enough sleep to not go insane? Simple living is about living your life with a purpose that aligns with your values. It's about enjoying the things you love and care about and not about stressing over the things that don't matter. It's fulfilling; it brings peace; it drips with contentment. Living simply is about being who you were made to be.

That's what this book is about. I want to park at the nitty-gritty of life - -the intersection between good intentions and reality. I want to help you find that peaceful place, where your pocketbook, your home, and your weekly routine reflect your family's convictions and values. Responsible home managers must be intentional with their decisions - -we need to take time to evaluate our priorities and then take the steps necessary to make our family life reflect the simple life we crave. It won't happen for us- - mature adults proactively make decisions and form habits to shape their home lives into the lifestyles they desire. We can't blame a hectic schedule, too many bills to pay, or too many messes to clean for keeping us from our goals because we can do something about those. You want a simpler life at home for your family - - a home that is clean and organized and fits your life's purpose. I want to give you some tools to help you do this.

Admitting that I'm not a certified organizer or a simplicity guru is probably not the best way to begin a book about simple living. But I need to lay that out on the table between me and you, the reader, before we begin this journey together. I don't have a database full of clients, and I don't have my own TV show. I'm a young mom running a busy house- hold. Maybe you can relate. Simple living is something I've learned to value through my life experience. It's been along journey to get here, and it's a journey you can take as well. In fact, I'm still walking the path.

My husband and I have made simplicity one of our live's highest priorities. We currently live outside of the United States in a 1,400- square- foot apartment (boasting only one closet) with our five-year-old daughter, our two-year-old son, and another little one on the way. We continually evaluate all of our belongings to make sure they still offer our value to our lives. We are selective with the new purchases we bring in our home in order to make the most of our space. We hardly watch any television, and we spend lots of time together because both my husband and I work from home. These intentional decisions allow us to live a life that feels right in a way that corresponds with our highest values. We're able to live on a rather meager salary while still enjoying family outings, the occasional vacation, and even quality coffee. But our lifestyle didn't happen overnight. My life's journey helped shape my philosophy about simple living.

Tsh Oxenreider, author of Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, is the creator of the popular blog and is the founder of She is passionate about simplifying life and eliminating clutter so that the truly meaningful things in life can breathe. Tsh spends her days with her husband and three young children exploring the world, reading and learning, and being inspired by whatever surroundings their travels take them to.

My Take:  I believe in organization.  I believe in simplicity.  I do not know how to attain either one of these ideals, although I have been trying for many years.  That's not true.  I've been trying to be more organized without simplifying.  By combining organization with simplification, Tsh shows that these goals are attainable.

The key to Tsh's plan is that it is custom made.  Her definition of Organized Simplicity is not going to be the same as mine.  She includes a chapter on writing a family purpose statement.  I spent the better part of a Sunday afternoon writing and re-writing my hopes for my family and the purpose of our home.  I found that my end result was not what I would have thought.

The next few chapters consist of helpful tools like creating a Home Management Notebook, managing money and time, creating a home that works.

Last, but not least is the painful Part 2: Ten Days to a Simpler, More Organized Home.  Room by room, the reader is encouraged to define the purpose of each then simplify.  We have too much stuff taking up valuable real estate in our home.  Ruthlessly clean it out.  Throw it away, donate it, and schedule a yard sale.  Reading those chapters hurt.  Yet I found myself envisioning kitchen contraptions I could do without and taking a load of incomplete toys to Deseret Industries.  While the kids are at school, of course.  No use making this into a learning experience for all the children, much to Tsh's dismay.

This is, perhaps, the most realistic, wholistic and simple home organization book I've seen.  Appendix includes goal setting tools, day planning calendars, helpful websites, and recipes for cleaning solutions. She and FlyLady advocate a clutter - free life.  In theory, I completely agree.  In practice, I love the little clothes my children came home from the hospital in, the bells I collected in the different countries during my summers abroad (I don't display them hence, I don't have to dust them.  I just love them), and the china I never use yet it sits in my cabinet.

Excellent book.  I will use some of her ideas.  I might even use most of her ideas.  Someday when I move, I will probably use all of her ideas.  But for now I will save the tiny bottles of shampoo from hotels I've stayed in.


CountessLaurie said...

great review, thanks. i too save the bottles from hotels and then use them when i am so disorganized i forget to buy more. so they have a purpose in my life. i like that you are going to sneak the toys out :-) that is my plan someday too!!

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

My mini-shampoos get their own labeled bin. Considering how good it might feel to chuck the whole bin in the garbage...